Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Dar - Capital of Natural Wonders of Africa

IT has often been said that Tanzania is abundantly blessed with natural marvels, from abundance of wild animals to natural landscape.

This was proven recently when all three natural wonders scooped top accolades to be among the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.

The Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro, and the Ngorongoro Crater are the three given natural wonders of Tanzania making part of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa and also among several world natural heritage sites of global importance.

It is befitting then to acknowledge a post on 'The Natural Wonders' website that, Tanzania could easily be called the capital of the natural wonders of Africa. The Seven Wonders of Africa Project was initiated in 2008 by US, Texas-based Dr Phillip Imler, founder of the Seven Natural Wonders, a nonprofit making organization, to identify seven natural wonders on the African continent and protect them.

This is part of a bigger project, The Seven Natural Wonders of the World, which identifies notable sites with a view to conserving them. It mainly identifies winners through public and expert voting. For Tanzania to have three of its tourism sites, part of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa is a big boost to the country's tourism sector, casting it in the international limelight as one of the best places to visit.

This will pull more tourists to visit Tanzania and other African countries whose sites have made it to the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa. During the celebration to announce the 7 Natural Wonders of African, in Arusha Dr Imler said experts had expressed wonder that three of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa are from Tanzania.

He noted that the results were an indication of Tanzania's commitment to conserve natural resources, including wildlife. Dr Imler noted that Serengeti received the most votes and the most number one votes among the 13 sites that entered the race for Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.

In his announcement, Dr Imler described the Serengeti migration as the longest and largest over land migration in the world. The Serengeti plains account for over 18,641 square miles and the migration itself travels 500 miles on the path from Tanzania to the Maasai Mara Reserve in Kenya.

Approximately 80 per cent of the Serengeti plains are protected by the Tanzanian and Kenyan governments. It is home to over 70 larger mammals and approximately 500 different types of birds. "Probably the most impressive part of the migration is the herds of wildebeests that blanket the plains.

The migration will kick off around 250,000 wildebeests each year," he explained. Mount Kilimanjaro was described as one of the largest stratovolcanoes in the world reaching 19,340 feet (5,895 m) into the air.

As the tallest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro is also the tallest free standing mountain in the world, a composite volcano that includes layers of lava, tephra, and volcanic ash. The volcano is currently inactive with no known history of eruptions. The Mountain has seven distinctive peaks with Uhuru Peak accounting for the mountains highest elevation at 19,341 feet (5,895 m).

A 1.5 mile wide crater is featured as part of the Kibo portion of the mountain. "The high elevation and proximity to the equator allows visitors to experience a variety of climate types. Kilimanjaro also features a year round snow-topped peak. Although the volcano is isolated, it is part of the line of volcanoes that reach across northern Tanzania," he explained. The Ngorongoro Crater is the world's largest unbroken caldera.

Often referred to as "Africa's Garden of Eden," the crater is home to over 30,000 animals including elephants, lions, cheetahs, wildebeests, buffaloes, many species of birds and the rare black rhinos. The Crater was created from a volcano that exploded creating the caldera wilderness haven. It is 12 miles (19 km) across and consumes 102 square miles (264 sq km) of wilderness.

"The rim of the crater rises just over 2,000 feet (610 m) above the caldera floor reaching an elevation of 7,500 feet (2,286 m)," Dr Imler added. Other natural wonders in Africa declared winners in the race are; the Red Sea Reef, River Nile, credited as being the longest river in the world, Sahara Desert, also the largest in the world and the Okavango delta in Botswana.

Prime Minister Mr Mizengo Pinda who was among the dignitaries to witness the historic event said Tanzania would cooperate with other African countries in promoting tourism which is leading in foreign exchange earnings.

"In order to allow visitors to maximize their experience while on the continent, tourists, especially special interest visitors, should have easy travels across the states," he noted. On his part the Managing Director of Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) Dr Aloyce Nzuki was quoted stressing that this is proof that Tanzania implements natural resource conservation policies.

He said recognizing Tanzania's natural resources will help to clear confusions that tourists normally get before leaving their home countries. The Director-General of Tanzania National Parks, Mr Allan Kijazi said they are very happy with the results and all the natural resources and wildlife have to be protected not only the chosen ones.

During the award ceremony in Arusha, River Nile which begins its journey from the source of the Nile in Jinja to the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt has been Uganda's only winner. The Ugandan Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Ms.Agnes Akiror Egunyu received the award on behalf of the country.

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