MINISTRY OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND TOURISM
REPORT ON ALLEGATIONS BROUGHT FORTH BY WINGERT WINDROSE SAFARIS ON ALLOCATION OF LAKE NATRON GCA HUNTING BLOCKS
Friedkin Conservation Fund (FCF) owns two sister hunting companies in Tanzania. These companies are Tanzania Game Trackers Safaris (TGTS) Ltd and Wengert Windrose Safaris (WWS). Both companies applied for the tourist hunting blocks for hunting term of 2013 -2018 as shown in Table 1 below. In the previous hunting term, these Companies were allocated a total of 14 hunting blocks.
Following the allocation of the hunting blocks for 2013 -2018 by the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism and subsequent release of the results on September 6, 2011, TGTS and WWS were dissatisfied and therefore made an application for the administrative review to the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism (MNRT). The Minister submitted the application to the Hunting Block allocation Advisory Committee for opinion and recommendation. Basically, these companies wanted reasons on why they were not allocated all hunting blocks that they applied for including Lake Natron Game Controlled Area (North).
Table 1: The hunting blocks applied and allocated to two FCF Hunting Companies for 2013-2018 hunting term
Name of the Company
The hunting blocks applied by these companies (2013-2018)
The hunting blocks allocated to these companies (2013-2018)
TANZANIA GAME TRACKERS SAFARIS LTD (TGRS)
Ugalla GR (North)
Ugalla GR (Central)
Moyowosi GR Njingwe 1
WENGERT WINDROSE SAFARIS (WWS)
Lake Natron GCA (N-S)
Lake Natron GCA (N)
Through the Hunting Block allocation Advisory Committee, which met in January 2012, it was apparent that TGTS had already exhausted the maximum number of blocks prescribed by the Wildlife Conservation Act No.5, 2009 under Section 38 (7). On the other hand, WWS was not allocated three out of five hunting blocks they requested because of stiff competition. This competition was exacerbated by the new Wildlife Conservation Act which, in accordance to Section 39(3)(b), made it compulsory that the percentage of foreign owned companies allocated hunting blocks shall not exceed 15% of the total hunting companies at a particular time. The two companies made a second application for Administrative Review to the Minister, who again submitted this application to the Hunting Block allocation Advisory Committee. Still the Committee did not see any compelling reasons to cancel the allocation of a hunting block that was already lawfully allocated to another company in favour of WWS.
- Conflict over Lake Natron Game Controlled Area (East)
- Lake Natron Game Controlled Area (GCA) has four hunting blocks which resulted following subdivision of the previous two blocks i.e Lake Natron Game Controlled Area North and Lake Natron Game Controlled Area South. These blocks were later subdivided into four hunting blocks prior to commencement of 2013-2018 hunting term: Lake Natron GCA (South-West) allocated to Michel Mantheakis Safaris Ltd, Lake Natron GCA (South) allocated to Kilombero North Safaris Ltd, Lake Natron GCA (North-South) allocated to WWS Ltd and Land Natron GCS (North) which was allocated to Green Miles Safaris Ltd. This exercise of evaluating and subdividing the blocks was conducted throughout the country by Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI), the country’s Wildlife Scientific Authority. However, it became apparent that the names for some blocks did not reflect their actual geographical locations.
- It was, therefore, proposed that these blocks be re-named. In Lake Natron GCA three blocks; Lake Natron GCA (North-South), Lake Natron GCA (North) and Lake Natron GCA (South –West) had their names changed to Lake Natron GCA (North), Lake Natron GCA (East) and Lake Natron GCA (West), respectively.
- Previously, FCF strongly disputed subdivision of a block which led to formation of Lake Natron GCA (North –South) and Lake Natron GCA (North). However, the government was satisfied by the scientific reasons and criteria for having two blocks and, therefore, approved the exercise despite resentment from FCF. WWS applied for two blocks but was allocated one block and that is Lake Natron Game Cotrolled Area North-South, a category II hunting block with the size of 1885 km2. The company made payment for this block in 2013. However, WWS made application for Administrative Review twice appealing for re-allocation of the block which was awarded to another company. There were no compelling reasons to revoke the allocation of the block already awarded to another company legally in favour of WWS.
- Following failure of WWS to stop subdivision of the block by the government into two and, later failure to win one of the blocks through the two administrative reviews, it consulted Green Miles Safaris Ltd (GMS) the legal concession holder of the Lake Natron GCA (East) Hunting Block for 2013-2018 hunting term. GMS showed willingness to sell his safari packages to WWS and not otherwise. WWS insisted their position that they wanted the block and not ready for any other option. The hostility between the two companies became apparent in Reno-Nevada, US in January 2013, when WWS used American officials to throw the Managing Director for GMS out of the trade fair.
- After unsuccessful attempts to get hold of Lake Natron Game Controlled Area (East) Hunting Block, WWS fabricated a story accusing the officials of Wildlife Division of a “dirty game” that they had changed the names of the hunting blocks in order to swap their block and award it to GMS. The Wildlife Division officials clarified this issue showing that the changes did not specifically target Lake Natron GCA only but also other hunting blocks including those located in Selous Game Reserve. The justification for these changes was based on the reality that the previous names did not reflect the actual geographical position of the blocks. It was also made clear through the maps that there was no way these changes could affect the position and size of the hunting blocks. Previously, WWS were issued with a map for their hunting block – Lake Natron GCA (North – South) which was proposed to be called Lake Natron GCA (North) because of its location. However, since WWS were interested to getting Lake Natron GCA (East)- previously called Lake Natron GCA North- by any means, they were not ready to accept any reality and opted to lie that they were not issued with any map.
- In accordance to law, WWS were supposed to vacate the Lake Natron GCA (East) Hunting Block by 31st March, 2013, which was the end of hunting term. However, it did not comply with this legal requirement. Instead they opted to go to court, an indication that they were not satisfied by results of the two Administrative Reviews. The Court ruled against WWS and, therefore, it lost the case.
- A new concession holder, GMS, complained to the Director of Wildlife that he was unable to set a hunting camp in a contested hunting block because WWS was still in. On 20th May, 2013, the Director wrote to WWS giving them a notice to vacate the hunting block in three days time.
- WWS played down the notice which was issued by the Director of Wildlife. Instead, on May 23, 2013 a delegation of WWS returned to the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism insisting their ambition to retain the Lake Natron GCA (East) Hunting Block (previously) called Lake Natron GCA North). Furthermore, they wanted the Minister to undo a three days notice that the Director of Wildlife issued for WWS to vacate the Hunting Block.
- The Minister instructed the Director of Wildlife to convene a meeting for all key stakeholders involved in the Lake Natron GCA (East) Hunting Block conflict. The meeting was convened on May 24,2013. However, no consensus was reached as WWS maintained their position despite all evidence presented showing that they were not the legal concession holders for the contested block.
- In that meeting, all relevant documents pertaining to the process and outcome of block allocation were presented. These documents included Report on evaluation of hunting blocks submitted by Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) to the Director of Wildlife, Public notice inviting application for hunting blocks, letters of allocation of hunting blocks and maps of the hunting blocks. The TAWIRI report, dated February, 2011 was signed on each page by the Director General for TAWIRI. This report, contained maps on which a hunting block located on the Northern part was labelled as Lake Natron GCA (North-South) while the one on the Eastern Part was indicated as Lake Natron GCA (North). It was insisted that this was the basis of proposing change of the names to reflect the actual geographical location of the blocks rather than using the names that were misleading.
- Despite clarifications made, WWS insisted that they had the right over the contested hunting block. Their Director of operations presented a map which he claimed to have obtained from TAWIRI. When he was queried on procedure he used to obtain a map from TAWIRI while TAWIRI has no mandate to issue the maps to any hunting company he said that he was compelled to do so because he was not issued a map by Wildlife Division.
- WWS was cautioned of its unacceptable behaviour of colluding with some dishonest government officials for the sake of getting hold of government documents as some of them are not formal. This being the case, these documents can be misleading. WWS was further warned that the act of colluding with staff in order to steal government documents was not only unethical but also a serious violation of law.
- The behaviour of buying dishonest government officials for the sake of meeting their goals appears to be common among some staff and mandate of the TGTS and WWS. For instance, on May 9, 2013, WWS through one of his officer (name withheld), called an Assistant Director responsible for Wildlife Utilization (ADUT), and told him that his bosses were inviting him for dinner and talks somewhere he didn’t mention. The ADUT declined this offer but the officer kept on insisting. ADUT invited WWS officials to the office if at all the talks were official but the officer insisted that his bosses wanted the talks be held somewhere else due to sensitivity of the talks. Later on he sent a text message (sms) trying to convince ADUT to accept invitation on grounds that the event would be very rewarding to him.
- During the meeting, another WWS Director said that despite all arguments and facts presented, it was more logical for the Ministry to allocate the contested hunting block to WWS due to its presence in this area for long time and the huge investment they had made compared to the northern part which during allocation was known as Lake Natron Game Controlled Area North – South.
- WWS were reminded that basically all hunting blocks belong to the government and that are allocated to investors for five years. This is why investors are not allowed to erect permanent structures in these blocks. It is, therefore, incorrect for any company to claim having ownership for a given hunting block after expiry of such term. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that a person/company allocated the hunting block today will be allocated the same block on the next hunting term. This is the reason why all companies including the previous concession holders are required to reapply for another term. WWS were reminded to be considerate, because while they had seven hunting blocks allocated to them, some companies which had similar qualifications could not get any hunting block due to stiff competition.
After several mediating meetings, WWS went to the Court and filed different cases. Among those cases were;
- Miscellaneous Land Application No. 44 of 2013 Wengert Windrose Ltd Versus Green Mile Safari Ltd and Others;
- Commercial Case No.113 of 2013 Wengert Windrose Safaris Versus Green Mile Safari Ltd;
- Miscellaneous Commercial Case No. 88 of 2013 Wengert Windrose Safaris (T) Ltd Versus Green Mile Safari Ltd;
- Commercial Case No.115 of 2013 Green Mile Safari Ltd Versus Wengert Windrose Safaris Ltd;
- Miscellaneous Commercial application No.92 of 2013 Green Mile Safari Ltd Versus Wengert Windrose Safaris Ltd;
- Miscellaneous Commercial Cause No.26 of 2013Wengert Windrose Safaris Ltd Versus Green Mile Safari Ltd;
- Miscellaneous Commercial Application No.26 of 2013 Wengert Windrose Safari Ltd Versus Awadh Ally Abdallah;
- Miscellaneous Commercial application No.68 of 2014 Awadh Abdallah Versus Wengert Windrose Safari Ltd.
- However, despite the court ruling being against WWS, the company continued to occupy Lake Natron GCA (East) unlawfully.
- On July 5, 2013 WWS staff purposely drove a vehicle towards foreign tourists who were clients of GMS with intention of knocking them down. Earlier, the WWS staff dug the holes in the airstrip to ensure that no plane could land. They also closed roads with big branches of trees to block accessibility for vehicles owned by GMS. Having seen this risk, the tourists left, not only denying GMS the right to hunt in a block allocated to him legally, but also denying the government revenues and possibly, tarnishing the image of Tanzania as unsafe destination for tourist hunting.
- Along with their unacceptable behaviour, WWS started campaigns to instigate communities in one of the Villages to protest the presence and operations of GMS in Lake Natron GCA (East). This was done regardless of the fact that GMS is a legal concession holder of the block.
- Unlike in the previous years, when WWS was said to be hostile to the villagers, they had changed and started to provide support in terms of money and pledging some more materials. They were also working closely with some village leaders lobbying for their support and it is believed that some Village Officials agreed to sign a contract (which was not there before) indicating WWS commitments in development of the villages. Apparently, this contract was only known to some village leaders, not approved by Village Assembly and not known to Longido District Council. Moreover, the contested Hunting Block is in the Game Controlled Area, which is a reserved land, hence owned by the Central Government rather than Village Government.
- Following WWS actions that were threatening peace and tranquility, District Commissioner for Longido convened a meeting with all hunting companies in the District on July 19, 2013 reminding on what is expected from them and the general codes of conduct as investors.
- He warned that the Government would not hesitate to take stern measures against any company that would make the villagers a part of their conflicts by instigating breaching of the peace and tranquility in the District.
- Unacceptable behavior of WWS and TGTS in the hunting industry
- Basically, for years WWS and TGTS had been stubborn and arrogant, not only against government officials but also against other investors in the industry. These behaviours were observed in different areas where they have been operating including in Selous, Rungwa, Ugalla Game Reserve and now Lake Natron Game Controlled Area and Makao Wildlife Management Area (WMA).
- Apart from the current conflict taking place in Lake Natron GCA, the WWS sister company (TGTS) also entered into conflict with Fereck Safaris in Makao WMA. TGTS through Mwiba Holdings, unlawfully entered and constructed a hunting camp in the Hunting Block allocated to Fereck Safari Ltd. TGTS lost in the process of getting an investor for hunting block in Makao WMA. It had 50% score while their competitors, Fereck Safaris scored 80%.
- Allegations by WWS that they are suffering unjust treatment at the hands of the Tanzanian Department of Wildlife and that the government has not made any efforts to clarify the matter are unfounded. Essentially, wisdom and considerable tolerance have been observed in working with both hunting companies owned by FCF in Tanzania. In view of this, the following points clarifies how the government had worked with WWS and other hunting companies in the hunting industry:-
- Allocation of hunting blocks for 2013-2018 hunting term had followed all legal procedures as prescribed in the Wildlife Conservation Act No.5 of 2009 and the hunting Regulations of 2010.
- In a case where both companies owned by FCF Group (TGTS and WWS) and other hunting companies were not satisfied by the outcome of allocation of hunting blocks, the Ministry was ready and willing to listen to them and consider their cases through the Advisory Committee for Block Allocation, The Director of Wildlife and even the Hon. Minister.
- Despite dirty tricks, including unjust implicating of the members of Advisory Committee and Ministry officials with corruption, the Ministry continued to discuss and educate WWS and finally advised them to seek their right in the Court.
- Despite the court ruling, on which WWS lost the case, the Ministry still opened the doors for more discussions and showed high degree of tolerance by not evicting WWS from the block which, essentially they were occupying illegally. The Ministry believed that negotiation and more education to WWS would settle the matter amicably. At the same time, the Ministry was working keenly in persuading the GMS to be patient and cooperative in ensuring that this matter is resolved amicably.
- Although WWS had stopped GMS (a legal concession holder) from conducting its activities; had threatened the security of tourists; had denied the government its revenues following cancellation of bookings by tourist; and had instigated villagers to protest against a company which is legally allocated a block, the government had opted for diplomatic approach to address the problem.
- The above shows that the government has been very considerate to WWS. It is unfortunate, however, that this approach has been interpreted as weakness in the part of the government.
- Restoration of Hunting License to Green Mile Safari Ltd (GMS)
- Decision to revoke GMS hunting license in its hunting blocks by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism following were based on the irregularities on hunting tourism conducted by the GMS clients. These illegal activities were evidenced by the video tape availed by Hon. Peter Msigwa (Mp) during the Parliamentary budget session in 2014. These illegal activities compelled the government through Wildlife Conservation Act Number 5 of 2009 to halt hunting activities in all hunting blocks owned by GMS. This were effected through a press conference availed to the public by the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism on the 11th July 2014.
- After keen scrutiny of the appeal by GMS to restore its hunting license in the Selous Game Reserve (MK1), Lake Natron GCA (East), Gonabisi/Kidunda-WMA, In May 2016, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism decided to cancel the suspension that was given to the company and resume its hunting activities.
- Restoration of the hunting license to GMS were based on the facts submitted to the Hunting Blocks Allocation Advisory Committee, the Wildlife Conservation Act No. 5 of 2009, Court decisions and other legal advices.
- It is worthy noting that, provisions of the Wildlife Conservation Act No 5 of 2009 section 38(12)(c) empowers the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism to cancel allocation of a hunting block at any time before the expiration of a hunting term where there is sufficient evidence that the person allocated a hunting block among other things has been convicted of an offence under this Act. Subsequently, section 38 (13) stipulates that no decision to cancel the allocation of a hunting block shall be made until the person concerned has been given an opportunity to be heard. It is from this provision of the law, other legal advices and court decisions that the Minister gave GMS the right to resume its hunting tourism activities in its allocated hunting blocks.
- Furthermore, even if the allocation of Lake Natron Game Controlled Area East hunting block to Green Miles was cancelled, It would not mean that the ownership of the hunting block automatically reverts to Wengert Windrose Safaris. Regulation 8(3) of the Wildlife Conservation (Tourist hunting) Regulation of 2015, requires the Minister of Natural Resources to Tourism to advertise hunting blocks that fall vacant during a particular tenure of ownership.
- The Wildlife Conservation Act No. 5 of 2009 and the Tourist Hunting Regulations, 2015 defines a Professional Hunter (PH) as a hunting person qualified and licensed by the Director of Wildlife to guide a hunting client during a hunting expedition. Accordingly, a licensed profession hunter is required by law to supervise hunting of any animal permitted under the Act and guide any type of trophy hunting in accordance with the Act and any other relevant law.
- Meanwhile, the Ministry had directed that, disciplinary and legal actions be taken against all those involved (Wildlife Rangers and Professional Hunters) in the violation of the Wildlife Conservation Act and its subsequent hunting regulations. Further to that, the ministry advised GMS to resume its hunting activities in Lake Natron GCA East and WWS was ordered to vacate from the same hunting block (Lake Natron GCA East) by 31st May 2016.
Following this decision made by the Ministry, WWS filed an application against the ministry requesting the High Court- Commercial Division to quash the decision made by the ministry in favor of GMS. However, the application was dismissed on 6th June 2016. As part of its delaying tactics, WWS have filed yet another application against the Ministry and now to the High Court- Land Division as if the issue in question is about land ownership.
The allegations brought by WWS are unfounded and they are entirely misleading. We believe that WWS are aware of the following facts:
- Lake Natron GCA has four hunting blocks allocated to four different companies including WWS and Green Miles Safaris. WWS is interested in and is pushing to get a block which is legally allocated to Green Miles Safaris.
- The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism is empowered by the Wildlife Conservation Act No.5 of 2009 and Hunting Regulations of 2010 (reviewed in 2015) to allocate a hunting block ( not block of land) to hunting company for tenure of five years. All hunting blocks belong to the government and that investors are not allowed to erect permanent structures. It is, therefore, incorrect for any company to claim having ownership for a given hunting block after expiry of such term. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that a person/company allocated the hunting block today will be allocated the same block on the next hunting term. This is the reason why all companies including the previous concession holders are required to reapply for another term.
- The Hunting Block Advisory Committee and the Court of Law are independent bodies and do not form part of the Wildlife officials. The Advisory Committee conducted two administrative reviews and satisfied that the allocation was correctly done. The Court of Law also ruled against WWS. It is unfortunate that WWS does not want to mention the involvement of these bodies and opted to unfairly implicated wildlife officials and the Ministry with re-awarding of a block to Green Miles Safaris.
- The Minister had already made a final decision based on recommendations of the Hunting Block Advisory Committee. It is apparent that WWS was not satisfied with Minister’s decision that is why it opted to go to the Court of Law.
- Arrogance and stubbornness of WWS and TGTS, not only violates the legal rights of other stakeholders of the hunting industry, but also denies the government revenues and tarnishes the image of the country internationally. This can also detrimentally affect the tourism industry due to wrong impression brought forth by these companies that Tanzania is not a safe tourist destination. This is likely to be the case following an attempt by these companies to threaten the life of the tourists by digging the holes in the airstrip, blocking the roads and even attempting to knock down some foreign tourist by vehicles. The behavior of these companies also implicates the government that it is not doing justice to other stakeholders of the hunting industry.
- Position of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism
For sake of national interest and smooth operation in the hunting industry, The Ministry states as follows:
- WWS should vacate immediately from the hunting blocks Lake Natron GCA East which they are occupying illegally.
- To inform the general public and International community that WWS has intentionally misled them and that the allegations brought to them are unfounded.
- The fact that FCF has invested in Tanzania, enjoying the SIS status and that they contribute in community development cannot justify and, in no way, does give its sister hunting companies’ freedom to breach the laws of the land and violate the legal rights of other people. It is very disappointing that while TGTS and WWS has seven hunting blocks and are currently conducting hunting, they have stopped others from doing the business. The Ministry further advise that FCF to closely investigate the conduct and integrity of some of its staff in the WWS and TGTS.
- It is also instructive to note that the Strategic Investors Status awarded to FCF covers Lake Natron Game Controlled Area North-South (Now North) and does not include Lake Natron Game Controlled Area East.
- WWS are reminded that the government has reached threshold of tolerance against their behavior and that is considering taking stern measures in case they continue to disturb and disrupt the smooth running of the hunting industry.
- The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism is highly concerned with allegations against her officials brought forth by WWS. These allegations are fabricated in a way of tarnishing the image of the Ministry and the Department of Wildlife, in particular. The Ministry is striving to observe a good governance and rule of law in delivering high quality services to all clients along with improving investing climate. . Similarly, WWS has intentionally misled the general public and International Community for the sake of making sure that they get hold of the block they had vowed to get by using all means. It is unfortunate they have opted for the worst and dirty tricks.
- The Ministry will continue to implement its legal mandate by observing laws, regulations and procedures. This will go hand in hand with maintaining a good and friendly relationship with investors by offering them high quality services at a maximum convenience. However, the Ministry cannot tolerate any acts aiming at disrupting peace and tranquility which are intentionally perpetrated by some investors. The Ministry believes that giving undue favor to anybody or mistreating any person, regardless of his/her origin, race and status is unethical and violation of law and human rights.
Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism
08th July, 2016