Arusha — GOVERNMENT officials in Karatu District are working towards establishing a wider buffer-zone corridor that will separate local villages from the Northern Highland Forest Reserve and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority.
District Commissioner Daudi-Felix Ntibenda revealed the fresh demarcation plans to safeguard the reserves, shortly after holding meetings with leaders of the five villages of 'Kambi-ya-Simba,' 'Upper Kitete,' 'Lositete,' Mbulu-mbulu,' and 'Tloma,' located within the Mbulumbulu Ward of Karatu District in Arusha Region.
"It will take a long process but eventually this is the only permanent solution in curbing increasing cases of illegal sandal wood logging, wildlife poaching and other problems related to looting of natural resources and government trophies," stated Mr Ntibenda.
According to the official, the government has been so 'considerate,' to the residents, allowing them to extend their farms right onto the immediate borderlines with the reserves. The DC also held an open public meeting in 'Kambi-ya-Simba' village where, cases of elephant poisoning cases have been reported. Poachers trap elephants with pumpkins and watermelons sprinkled with poison.
"An official report from recent investigations reveal that most of the locals who have been performing these illegal acts of wildlife killing and sandal-wood harvesting were merely conduits; the real culprits are barons operating from afar places, including Arusha City," said the District Commissioner.
Cases of illegal logging in the Northern Highland Forest Reserve and excessive poaching of large wild animals such as Elephants and Buffaloes for both the animals' ivories and meat recently took onto a dangerous twist when some villagers started threatening wildlife rangers.
"Some residents, armed with traditional weapons like machetes, spears, clubs and home-made rifles have frequently been attacking our rangers and officials who went round to investigate cases of animal deaths or to drive the strayed wildlife back into the park," revealed Mr Amiyo T. Amiyo, the Manager of Conservation with the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority.
During one of the incidents, a government vehicle belonging to the Ngorongoro Authority was burnt to ashes and its occupants beaten before escaping for dear life. The Public Relations Manager with NCAA Mr Adam Akyoo said many of the arrested suspects involved in sandal-wood rackets and poaching have already been taken to court.