I just got back from visiting the Hadzabe tribe near Lake Eyasi. Unfortunately, my visit is 15 years too late. The Hadzabe have lived as hunter/gatherers in the Eyasi region for tens of thousands of years; as humans fulfilling their natural role in that ecosystem, living in complete balance with their surroundings. Now, their numbers have dwindled to 1500, of which none live as 100% hunter-gatherers all year round. Deforestation has fragmented their ecosystem, and the livestock of neighboring pastoralist tribes have ousted the native animals the Hadzabe relied on for food. A mere 15 years ago, a morning hunt of a Hadzabe group could yield a kudu or other big game, now they are reduced to shooting at small song birds, which could not serve as more than a snack. The majority of their food is now government ration (for which they are taxed), and that which they can buy in the village. They are forced to find ways of making money to pay for food, so they sell crafts, honey, and host tourists. Following closely on the heels of money, alcoholism has infected their society. Now, only the groups that live the farthest from permanent settlement live as true hunter-gatherers, and only during the wet season. The number of tourists visiting the region, on the other hand, has risen sharply, and this new industry is proving lucrative for the other tribes that live in the area and guide visits, like mine, to the Hadzabe. For this reason I chose to leave after one day. There is a new initiative to set aside land just for the Hadzabe without pastoralist interference, though it was only discussed at a local meeting of leaders the day before I came, and has not yet been proposed to the government. Hopefully this plan bears fruit soon, or else one of humanity’s last natural ties to the earth will disappear, as have too many in the last century.
#Tanzania #Hadzabe #eyasi #travel #human #ecosystem #environment #loss #hunting #circleoflife #environmentaldegradation