Human Activities Risk wildlife in Tarangire National Park

The seasonal Safari Park with authentic atmosphere is famous for its elephant migration, and huge concentrations of animals in the peak months. It is one of the 16 National Parks in Tanzania, covering an area of 2850sq kilometres with scattered baobab trees, acacia woodland that caters for wildlife food, open bush plains, swamps and River Tarangire that serves the wildlife water mostly during the dry season. The Park is overshadowed by Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater.

Despite being a tourism hub, attracting foreign and local visitors to explore its beauty atmosphere for its wildlife, Tarangire is currently facing a serious challenge of human activities threatening the park’s survival.

The concern have been sparked by Conservationists, calling for efforts to help halt the increased human activities around the park as it is not seen as congruent with conservations of the park. “Poaching may be considered the most serious threat to survival of wildlife but daily and increasing human activities and population is another emerging and serious threat leading to degradation of the wildlife ecosystem and the wildlife loss,” says a Conservation Biologist with Wildlife Conservation Society Tanzania (WCS) Mr Howard Frederick.

Other threats to the survival of the wildlife in the area include climate change, human population, illegal resource extraction and invasive species. Mr Fredrick points out the need for urgent measures to help control the increasing agricultural and other human activities at the park stressing the need for government and other stakeholders to take quick measures to help protect the future of the park.

“The challenge impose the Park at risk of over exploitation and extinction …urgent measures were vital to help protect the resource against destruction and loss involved through the challenge (human activities),” he notes.

Agricultural activities and human population leads also to loss of migration routes and dispersal areas, water sources and loss of natural species’ habitats and exposing the wildlife animals to dangers of vanishing.

A senior Research with Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) Mr Edward Kohi points out loss of tourism revenues and jobs as the threat not only leading to environmental impact but also creating poor public perceptions and views towards the tourism attraction sites. Chief Park Warden (Tarangire National Park) Mr Stephano Qolli echoes Mr Fredrick stressing the need for urgent and strong measures that would help get rid of human activities in and around the park.

“If the trend (human activities and population increase) continues with no efforts to control human activities and population increase, we may end up having no Tarangire Park in future,” he says pointing out that the communities (Mostly the Maasai pastoralists and farmers) living around the park as the main people imposing the threats.

“The Maasai are dependent on wells and seasonal rivers and swamps inside and outside Tarangire National Park to maintain livestock herds and human settlements,” he says adding that the move lead to destruction and disturbances to the wildlife animals, blocking migration routes of wildlife animals, loss of water sources connecting to River Tarangire… which is the main source of the water serving wildlife at the park.

“The move also encourages poaching, illegal hunting and conflicts among the pastoralists and the park authority,” he says stressing that the increased human population leads to encroachment of the park’s areas and thus rendering the wildlife animals and other species in the park constrained spaces for their survival.

He expresses the need for review of policies on community land use and protected areas in order to sanctify a better distance between village protected areas boundaries for health conservations of the wildlife and other natural species. “Formalised mapping of boundaries between Communities and protected areas under policies would be vital in the conservations,” he says adding the move would help institute conservation security.

Journalists’ interventions vital Speaking in a two-day workshop organised by Tanzania Journalists for Conservation (TJC) in Arusha recently, an Instructor and Senior Journalists from BBC England Ms Tira Shubati calls on Tanzanian journalists to focus on writing on the need for conservations of the nation’s natural resources.

“You are lack…maybe the most beautiful in the world, I have got in over 26 countries but to me Tanzania is still the most beautiful country basing on its natural resources including the wildlife,” she says and stresses the need for more and more public awareness creation on the importance of conservations.

She pledges support and trainings to Tanzanian journalists in order to enable them embark on the public creation towards the conservations of the country’s resources. “Journalists stand a better chance in the fight against poaching, illegal hunting among other challenges that face the conservations of the wildlife resources in this beautiful country (Tanzania),” she notes.

Echoing Ms Tira, the Executive Director of Serengeti Preservation Foundation Mr Meyasi Mollel said journalists should come up with better strategies that would enable them to write and create public awareness on the country’s wildlife resources.

“The challenges currently facing the conservations of our natural wildlife resources can only be exposed by journalists in order for the government and other stakeholders to intervene and end challenges such as human conflicts associated with wildlife conservations, poaching and climate change impacts,” he says.

Conservationists want killing of elephants halted

WILDLIFE conservation stakeholders have urged government to collaborate with experts and lay strategies to halt the killing of elephants.

The Executive Director of the Serengeti Preservation Foundation (SPF), Meyasi Mollel, said government commitment is necessary to curb the reported loss of the towering animals.

“It is only through the continuous but rationalised anti-poaching efforts that last remaining wildlife can be protected,” said the Director of Friedkin Conservation Fund Tanzania (FCF), Pratik Patel.

The conservationists raised the concern based on a report titled Great Elephants Census (GEC) in Africa, released earlier this month, which indicates that Tanzania is among countries with the greatest declines of elephant population in the continent.

The report, conducted in 18 countries, shows that Tanzania has rapid population decline of 60 per cent in five years. Elephant count was 42,871 and 26 per cent carcass. “The countries with the greatest declines were Tanzania and Mozambique, with a combined loss of 73,000 elephants to poaching in just five years,” says that report.

According to Mollel, government’s commitment to lay a sound plan would be the best way to help contain poaching of elephants in the country. “We cannot deny the truth there has been a tragic loss but there is hope only if the government makes commitment. We know President John Magufuli was not at fault, but he has the power to turn this around,” he said, adding that Tanzania’s image has been tarnished but it should not be forever.

The conservationist pointed out Uganda’s elephants which have recovered by 600 per cent after a huge loss in the 1980s. Botswana now leads the continent in elephant population. In another development, Patel said that elephant poaching is among the highest threats experienced in Tanzania’s conservation areas.

He said the report showed that savanna elephant populations declined by 30 per cent (equivalent to 114,000 elephants) between 2007 and 2014. The current decline is 8 per cent per year, primarily due to poaching. In the 18 countries surveyed, 352,271 elephants were counted.


Poacher jailed for owning jumbo carcass, ivory

A man who was facing charges of possessing a jumbo carcass and owning an elephant ivory has been sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for each of the two offences.

Lobulu Mapengo, who was arrested last year at Mto-wa-Mbu ward, Monduli District, appeared in court for the first time in August 2015.

He was caught and charged last July alongside his accomplice, one Saigura Melita, but the latter apparently managed to escape in November 2015 while being treated at Mount Meru hospital and is still at large. Mapengo had to face court action alone.

The two were also found with a rifle, number 458, and a jerry can both of which were impounded by the state. The judgement of the case number EC.43/2015 was delivered by Resident Magistrate Augustine Rwizile.

The two 20 years jail terms go together and the convict will only serve 20 instead of 40 years. The elephant tusk, described in legal terms as government trophy and which the two were caught with besides the jumbo carcass, is reported to be valued at 31, 233,900/-.

The sentence comes with two options, the first is for the accused to serve 20 years in jail and the second is for him to pay the cash penalty of ten-times the value of the trophy in this case 312 million/-.

Magistrate Rwizile charged the accused under section 86 of the Wildlife Conservation Act number 5 of 2009, which restricts any person from being in possession or dealing or selling any type of government trophy, including elephant tusks.

Advocate Paul Anyango is the state attorney specializing in wildlife and poaching offences. He said these cases were on the increase in the northern zone which is also the epicentre of conservation and tourism industry. Defending attorney, John Msau, was absent on the day of the judgement, late last week.


The Launch of Tanzania Journalists for Conservation- TJC

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania - Conservation efforts got a boost in Tanzania, thanks to journalists establishing a movement aimed at beefing up media coverage on the drive.

Dubbed Tanzania Journalists for Conservation (TJC), the major objective of the movement is to set conservation agenda to the media.

“Currently, conservation issues barely enjoy media attention in Tanzania despite the fact that they directly touch livelihood of the majorities, given the natural resource-based economy of the country,” Adam Ihucha, one of the TJC founding members.

Speaking during the launch of the movement held in Dar es Salaam on Friday (August 12, 2016), Mr Ihucha observed that there was ad hoc coverage of conservation undertakings in the Tanzanian media.

“The only time conservation issues enjoy front page space and prime air time in print and electronic media, respectively, in Tanzania is when poachers kill elephants or rhinos in our national parks,” he said.

The launch of the TJC movement on Friday was symbolic, as it coincided with the World Elephant Day observed every August 12, aimed at bringing attention to the urgent plight of both African and Asian jumbos.

The escalation of poaching, habitat loss, human elephant conflict and mistreatment in captivity are just some of the threats to both African and Asian elephants.

Indeed, Tanzania has dedicated nearly 28 percent of its surface area of 945,203 square kilometers to wildlife conservation - an area bigger than its northwestern neighbor country, Burundi, but now the East African natural resources-rich nation, faces a myriad of conservation challenges.

Poaching ranks high, among others, threatening the wildlife and ultimately a thriving multi-billion-dollar tourism industry.

Other threats are loss of natural habitat through human activities incompatible with conservation interests such as cultivation, overstocking of livestock, deforestation, use of pesticides and other pollution.

Mr Ihucha said that of all, poaching menace was great threat to tourism industry, its related jobs, revenues and the whole value chain, and soon than later, there would be nothing to attract visitors.

Wildlife tourism in Tanzania continues to grow, with more than 1 million guests visit the country annually, earning the country $2.05 billion, equivalent to nearly 17.6 per cent of GDP.

Additionally, tourism provides 600,000 direct jobs to Tanzanians; over one million people earn an income from tourism.

Indeed, not to mention the value chain of tourism which supports, parks, conservation areas and now community based wildlife management areas (WMA’s); the tourists’ dollars trickle down to farmers, transporters, fuel stations, spare parts suppliers, builders, tent manufacturers, suppliers of food and drink.

As if that was not enough, the government itself milks tourism with multiple taxes and fees, including the recent imposed 18 per cent value added tax (VAT) on tourism products and services.

“My view is that our reputation as the number one conservation play globally will soon be compromised, if we don’t end the wanton elephant poaching and illegal ivory trade which is now at industrial level,” Mr Ihucha explained.