Hadza Hunters Hamesi Hasani and his nephew Mkapa Kaunda stand on a rocky outcropping near their camp overlooking the Central Rift Valley in Tanzania. © Nick Hall

Stories in Africa

The Hadza

Helping Hunter-Gatherers Protect Their Homeland

Northern Tanzania is home to the Hadzabe, one of the last remaining hunter-gatherer tribes on Earth. Known for shunning material possessions and social hierarchy, the Hadza roam as needed to find game, tubers and wild berries.

Hunter-gatherer societies understand that their survival depends on natural resources. The Hadza's deep reservoir of natural knowledge and light footprint on their land have enabled them to persist in a challenging environment.

Increasingly, however, agriculture is destroying scrub-forest habitat that sustains wildlife and the Hadza, threatening to displace the tribe from their traditional homeland.


Due to population pressures, farming and livestock-raising tribes are increasingly forced into competition with the Hadza over land and natural resources.

By analyzing satellite imagery, The Nature Conservancy identified a chain reaction on the ground. Agriculture encroaches mainly from the south, as the Sukuma people clear woodland brush to grow beans and maize. The Datoga pastoralists, driven northward, then graze livestock on semi-arid lands the Hadza rely on to find food.

Unless we act now to secure wildlife corridors and traditional land uses for pastoralists and hunter-gatherers, the vibrant Hadza culture will likely be squeezed out of existence.


Land rights in Tanzania are a complicated issue, but they are extremely important to the future of Tanzania and its people. Communal lands are central to the Hadzabe and other groups, and gaining legal rights to those lands as a community is the first step toward keeping those lands undeveloped.

Our partner Ujamaa Community Resource Team (UCRT), with support from the Dorobo Fund and TNC, pioneered the Certificate of Customary Right of Occupancy (CCRO), a form of individual, and more recently, group land tenure within a larger village holding. This is an effective tool for strengthening community land rights and securing communal lands.

In October 2011, the Hadza took the innovative step of asserting legal claim to their homeland with a CCRO. They received official title — recognized by the government of Tanzania — to 57,000 acres.

In 2012, we secured four more homeland designations and protected 90,000 additional acres for the Datoga tribe. Their designations assert that more than 80 percent of their lands will now be managed as grazing areas for livestock and wildlife.

Securing additional land for pastoral use helps both tribes, as the Datoga no longer need to move onto Hadza land to graze cattle.

By the beginning of 2016, more than 200,000 acres of land have been secured for the Hadza, Maasai and other communities with CCROs, with more than 700,000 more acres slated to be titled by the end of 2017. In addition, the Hadza have earned more than $75,000 for conserving their land through an arrangement with a carbon offset provider.


We envision a northern Tanzania where the Hadza and neighboring tribes can use their lands and co-exist with wildlife as they have for centuries. We are pursuing three main strategies to create a resilient, sustainable Hadza homeland:

  • Improve Hadza communities' capacity to monitor and protect their titled land
  • Protect grazing resources for pastoralists in buffer areas surrounding Hadza titled land
  • Extend protection of Hadza land and associated wildlife habitat


We’ve recently formed the Northern Tanzania Rangelands Initiative, a coalition of nine NGOs working to create a thriving landscape where people and wildlife co-exist. NTRI works in the Yaeda Valley, where the Hadzabe have lived for 40,000 years, and four additional priority landscapes. NTRI works to secure land rights for communities, strengthen community governance and natural resource management capacity and increase revenue through tourism and carbon offset projects.

With your support, NTRI can continue securing communal lands for the Hadza and other groups across northern Tanzania.


Survival in the Great Rift (Nature Conservancy magazine)