Kilombero — A SPECIAL operation to move out pastoralists who had invaded Kilombero River basin and conservation forest has been successful in a short time as 370,000 cattle have been removed from the area.
The Morogoro Regional Commissioner, Mr Joel Bendera said this on Monday in a meeting at Ifakara town in Kilombero District, after a helicopter tour to inspect areas earlier invaded by the pastoralists in remote parts that are difficult to reach by road. The operation had intensified by the end of November, this year when over 380,000 cows were in the area.
Land plans in Kilombero allow for not more than 49,000 cows and in Ulanga not more than 53,000. Right now about 10,000 are believed to still be in the area. The meeting which was attended by various government and political leaders, agreed in one voice to cooperate in sensitising residents of the area on the importance of conservation.
Mr Bendera brushed aside talks that the operation was being carried out with hidden agenda, saying that the move is legal and aims at conserving the environment. "It should be understood that this exercise has no political agenda as it has all the legal blessings and it is known that conserved areas are supposed to be free from human activities," he said.
He said that the pastoralists whose livestock have been impounded by the government should find places to sell their herds. Mr Bendera said that livestock officers should ensure that they give out permits to pastoralists on condition that they would sell their animals at recognized markets such as Pugu in Dar es Salaam and Makuyuni in Arush, among others.
"It is nonsense for pastoralists whose livestock have been removed from the area to say that they have nowhere to go. They should find a place to go because there is no way we can let them remain," he said.
The RC added that pastoralists who have fulfilled required criteria will be provided with areas for livestock keeping in the villages within Kilombero and Ulanga districts. He said that as the operation becomes a success, the area will eventually regain its natural look. The exercise is expected to continue until January 3, next year where all the animals grazing in the area are expected to be removed.