Thursday, 30 January 2014

Thomson Safaris Sue the Website Stop Thomson Safaris

Another example of the spirit of the safari company that occupies 12,617 acres of Maasai grazing land in Loliondo, violently harass the legitimate landowners and finds it appropriate to aggressively present this as a model of community-based conservation.

I’m having some annoying problems getting exact information about issues that I need to include in next blog post. Instead I’ll first write about another issue that I’ve wanted to mention for a long time and it’ll get its own post.

Thomson Safaris, making a caricature of their ugly selves, have sued the website Stop Thomson Safaris in the Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco, for “defamation and tortious interference with prospective economic advantage”. The safari company has used a subpoena to make the web host Weebly disclose the identity of the people behind Stop Thomson Safaris (who were informed about this by Weebly in late April last year), but they remain anonymous for now and wish to remain that way for safety reasons since they are based in Tanzania. Unfortunately, as an interim measure while this case is pending, Stop Thomson Safaris has agreed to delete certain words from the website. However they state that, “By deleting these words, Stop Thomson Safaris does not accept that any wrongdoing has occurred and will continue to defend itself vigorously against this meritless lawsuit”. I do hope that there is some measure of freedom of expression and right to information in the USA, and I am of course more than willing to do anything that’s in my power to help the people behind the website against this rather ridiculous injustice. The only good thing about the lawsuit, apart from the dubious “entertainment value” of seeing Thomson being Thomson and the chance of making their behaviour more widely known, is that the safari company is spending considerable money on – several – expensive lawyers.

And by the way, in November 2010 a British social justice organisation that has land rights in Loliondo as one area of interest received a letter from a London solicitors firm instructed by Thomson. The safari company wanted to silence this organisation from mentioning them on its website. The organisation wrote a reply and did not hear more from the lawyers.

For my part – as long as those with relevant information make sure to share it with me within reasonable time – I’ll continue posting updates about Thomson and related land threats in Loliondo (and if they don’t I’ll post delayed updates…), as I have now been doing for almost four years, since I was thrown out of Tanzania for asking some timid questions about this safari company.

As a reminder, apart from Thomson Safaris Ltd, Tanzania Conservation Ltd - that was used to buy the land - Thomson Family Adventure Ltd and Nature Discovery Ltd are all divisions of Wineland-Thomson Adventures Inc. And they also own Gibb’s Farm in Karatu. These are the companies that should be avoided.

I do hope that Stop Thomson Safaris will soon be back to the part of this fight that’s fought online. More voices are needed to counteract Thomson’s propaganda.

Susanna Nordlund

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