29 January 2013

Tanzania: Cattle Grazing Threatens Serengeti Ecosystem

Photo: Bruce Hamilton
Serengeti National Park wins tourism award (file photo).

Mara — LOCAL leaders have reported massive migration of cattle into the western Serengeti and are worried that the livestock might cause serious damage to the eco-system.

"There are many herds of cattle invading conservation areas here. They are from the neighbouring districts of Bunda and Musoma rural as well as Bariadi," the Serengeti District Council Vice-Chairman, Mr Jumanne Kwiro, told the 'Daily News'.

The herders are reportedly grazing livestock in some parts of Grumeti Reserves and Ikona Wildlife Management Area (WMA), according to Mr Kwiro. Officials of the game reserves and the WMA were not immediately available for comment.

The game reserves and the WMA host several foreign and local investors contributing significant revenue to the Serengeti District Council and the central government via the Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources. The protected areas also form part of the annual migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra route.

Mr Kwiro who is also the councillor for Natta Ward (CCM) argued that local communities are currently reluctant to support conservation campaigns on grounds that they were not benefiting from the booming tourism sector in western Serengeti.

"Serengeti investors are not providing jobs to our people and they also don't trade with local business people. They are doing business with people from Arusha and that is why natives here are now welcoming herders from different districts as compared to previous years," the leader claimed.

He cited several tourist hotels located in the world's famous park as some of the investments operating without allegedly making any contribution to uplift the living standards of local communities. He appealed for the immediate intervention of the ministries of Livestock, Tourism and Natural Resources and Local Governments and Regional Administration (TAMISEMI).

"This is a complicated issue that needs joint intervention from the three ministers before the situation gets out of hand," he said. There are unconfirmed reports that herders are bribing village leaders to get grazing space in the area. Officials estimate that around 94 per cent of Serengeti District is made up of game-protected areas including the Serengeti National Park (SENAPA). The park attracts thousands of tourists mainly from overseas every year.

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