Arusha Times (Arusha)

Tanzania: Mt Kilimanjaro Reeling Under Weight of Trekkers

Photo: Wikipedia
Mt Kilimanjaro: Kilimanjaro residents to revive the damaged environment.

Kilimanjaro mountain is reeling under the weight of tens of thousands of people who are flock onto its peak annually threatening the natural feature's ecological balance.

The Conservator at the Kilimanjaro National Park, Mr Erastus Lufungulo said last week here that the number of visitors scaling the highest peak at Kibo has been escalating with each passing year with all of them taking along battalions of minders, porters, cooks and other supporting staff who surpass the intended figure that mountain facilities are able to support.

. Mr Lufungulo told the visiting members of the Parliamentary Committee on Land, Natural Resources and Tourism that more than 50,000 foreign tourists scale Mount Kilimanjaro every year but these are usually flanked by huge entourages of supporting staff whose number exceeds 200,000 people.

According to the KINAPA conservator, the team of trekkers also take between 5 and 6 days on the mountain carrying tons of luggages for their provisions while moving up towards Kili's peak.

The number of tourists scaling Mt. Kilimanjaro is increasing year after year.

The Director General for Tanzania National Park, Mr Allan Kijazi said while millions of people all over the world are scrambling to get a chance to climb Kilimanjaro, the mountain can only support 100,000 climbers every year if the environment around this important tourism feature was to be protected.

"The 50,000 tourists who climb Mount Kilimanjaro every year make a good number but the problem comes when each of them wants to take along huge teams of porters and other helpers," said Dr Kijazi, adding that this year TANAPA will have to formulate a directive that will help cut down the number of supporting staff flanking each climber up the mountain.

But that may prove a challenge because Kilimanjaro has of late been attracting huge international sports, pop and film stars, as well as leaders, all of whom demand a lot of people around them when climbing the mountain.

Dubbed, the 'world tallest free standing mountain,' Kilimanjaro, with its three volcanic cones, Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira, is a dormant volcano touching the sky at 5,895 metres or 19,341 feet above sea level.

'The Roof of Africa' yields over 80 billion/- annually, ahead of Ngorongoro Crater which generates 53 billion/- and Serengeti National Park which raises 45 billion/-. All these tourism features are located in the Northern Circuit.

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