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Tanzanian cattle herder wins int'l environment award

ARUSHA, Tanzania, April 18 (Xinhua) -- A Tanzanian Maasai man has won the 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize for his unique approach to protecting the environment and the entire community.

Edward Loure is the only winner from Africa continent in this year's award announced by the Goldman Environmental Foundation on Monday.

Awarded annually to environmental heroes from each of the world's six inhabited continental regions, the Goldman Prize recognizes fearless grassroots activists for significant achievements in protecting the environment and their communities.

Loure has lead a grassroots organization that pioneered an approach that gives land titles to indigenous communities-instead of individuals-in northern Tanzania, ensuring the environmental stewardship of more than 200,000 acres of land for future generations.

The Goldman Environmental Prize was established in 1989 by late San Francisco civic leaders and philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman. Prize winners are selected by an international jury from confidential nominations submitted by a worldwide network of environmental organizations and individuals.

Speaking in Arusha, soon after scooping the award, Loure, expressed his joy at the honour of Goldman Environmental Prize.

He said: "I appreciate the recognition of the efforts that I have made in securing community and communal land rights, sometimes under a very harsh environment. I and my colleagues at Ujamaa Community Resource Team (UCRT), we facilitate villagers to secure their communal land rights.

"We help them to obtain Certificates of Customary Rights of Occupancy (CCROs). So Getting the international recognition is a very big thing for me, those I work with and the communities that we serve. I hope it will bring more awareness for the need of communal land rights for pastoralists communities in Tanzania."

He further said: "We are asking the government to find a way of securing our pastoralists communal land, eg if they can gazette a national Park, why not a community residence grazing area?"

He also called on development partners to step up recognizing the pastoralists are a viable economic option, and to ensure the government recognizes pastoralist leverages and also to sample resources. "If they sample resources for maize and other agricultural products let them also sample pastoralism."

In the northern rangelands of Tanzania, communities of pastoralists and hunter-gatherers have sustainably lived off the land for generations, in coexistence with migrating native wildlife.

Maasai communities move their herds according to the seasons, taking care not to overgraze the land and share resources with the wildebeest, gazelles, impalas, and other animals that keep the ecosystem in balance.

Starting in the 1950s, the establishment of national parks pushed out indigenous peoples from their traditional lands, causing them to become "conservation refugees."

The increased competition over limited land has not only disrupted the balance of the ecosystem but also physically displaced the indigenous peoples whose existence and livelihoods had played a key role in protecting the wildlife and environment. Meanwhile, the revenue created from the tourism industry rarely flows back to benefit the displaced communities.

Born to a Maasai tribe, Edward Loure grew up in the Simanjiro plains, Manyara Region where his family and others in the community led a peaceful semi-nomadic life raising their cattle in harmony with the surrounding wildlife.

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