DAR ES SALAAM, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Hamisi Kigwangalla on Friday ordered authorities in Ngorongoro district to suspend the forceful eviction of Maasai communities from the disputed 1,500 square kilometers of game-controlled area in Loliondo.
He also ordered the release of livestock and other people's property that were confiscated during operations that saw several homes burnt down by wildlife agencies, rendering hundreds of residents homeless.
In addition, Kigwangalla gave a seven-day ultimatum to district and regional authorities to ensure that the livestock and people detained during the ongoing exercise be released.
"This dispute will not be resolved by guns neither will it be ended by war of words except through a dialogue. I am therefore directing all authorities to immediately call off the exercise," he said while addressing residents of Wasso, a small township in Loliondo division in Ngorongoro district.
The minister said confiscation of the livestock was tantamount to depriving the communities their livelihoods as communities in Loliondo depended on cows and goats as sources of their incomes.
The minister told the residents that he was determined to end the long and protracted dispute that lasted for over 25 years and that he was only waiting for a final decision from Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa.
In August, hundreds of houses belonging to Maasai communities were set ablaze by people believed to be wildlife rangers and local police in Loliondo.
In 1959, when the Ngorongoro Conservation Area was established, the population was at 8,000, and now the number stands at 92,000.