Karatu — THROUGH the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, Tanzania is now producing the leguminous 'Leucaena' silage, considered the most nutritious food for the Black Rhinoceros at the newly established Kamini Estate farm in Karatu district.
"Previously, we used to import the forage from Kenya's Lord Daramere Farms in Naivasha ... but that was too cumbersome because we had to get permits from more than five authorities," explained Mr Hillary Mushi, head of the Wildlife Department at the Ngorongoro Conservational Area Authority (NCAA).
Mr Mushi explained that the Leucaena feed used to cost 5 million/- for every 250 bales bought from Lord Dalamere farms in Kenya. However, the NCAA was also compelled to secure permits from the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA); Tanzania Foods and Drugs Authority (TFDA); Tanzania Atomic Energy Commission (TAEC) and the Immigration Department.
Though Rhinos can eat wild plantations such as Acacia and Sodom Apples,' plants, the Leguminous Leucaena forage are important as nutrition supplements especially where health fails or the mammals become older; the plants are also good as source of proteins to growing baby rhinos.
"The idea to start growing the leguminous fodder started with 'Fausta' the over aged female rhino which had to be kept under special care in the crater due to its failing health prompting the NCAA to seek Leucaena to assist in its recovery," explained Dr Athanas Nyaki the Veterinary Officer at Ngorongoro.
The plant has apparently helped Fausta, the rhino aged over 55 years, to regain health, prompting them and therefore the NCAA to start producing the special feed to ensure that the NCAA becomes self-sufficient in food grass.
The Tengeru Livestock Training Institute (LITI) produced the first seedling for Leucaena; "It is a high protein fodder also favoured by horses, chicken, cattle and other types of livestock," explained Mr Oshimu Mollel from LITI.
The 2 acres at Karatu will enable to produce hundreds bales of the plant within 70 days from now. The Black Rhino remains an endangered species worldwide, but not in Tanzania where the rare mammal continues to multiply and so far, two new Rhinos calves have just been born in Ngorongoro.
The Baby Rhinos thus bring the number of black Rhinoceroses in the Ngorongoro Crater to be more than 60 (actual figures however remain confidential), making the precinct a place with highest concentrations of the endangered species in the whole world.
Other Rhinos are found in the Serengeti National Park as well at the Special Sanctuary built within the Mkomazi National Park in Kilimanjaro Region where again their numbers are not disclosed for safety reasons.
There are only around 2500 black rhinos remaining in the world as of 2017 and these are mostly found in Kenya, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and South-Africa the number had dwindled by 96 per cent from the 65,000 mammals that were in the wild back in 1960s.