Loliondo — LIVESTOCK keepers living in villages surrounding Serengeti National Park have hatched new methods of trespassing into the conserved area by driving their large herds of cattle into the game park during the night.
This came to light about an hour past midnight in the early hours of Thursday night when game rangers working for the Tanzania National Parks impounded a herd of 600 cattle at Leng'osa Hill, inside Serengeti National Park.The herdsmen identified themselves as Yela Lotoiye, Samuel Makoi and Sembele Marko, all from Soitsambu Village in Loliondo Division of Ngorongoro District.
They admitted to have taken their cattle into Serengeti at night for grazing.
"There is drought everywhere and our livestock have been dying," they claimed. Asked what would happen if lions, leopards and other ferocious animals attacked their livestock, the Maasai herders said: "If a lion eats one or two animals that is not so bad, because drought can annihilate hundreds," said Ole Makoi.
Corporal James Daniel Senteu, one of the rangers who were on patrol when the livestock were seized, said it was a new ploy among nomadic grazers to trespass into the park at night, knowing they would not be detected.
The rangers drove the cattle for 15 kilometres, warding off other Maasai warriors who tried to follow them with weapons riding on motorbikes.
They compelled them to spend six hours from Leng'osa to Lobo Rocks where the entire herd is being kept, awaiting settling of penalties.
The Chief Conservator at Serengeti, Mr William Mwakilema, said they have upped the penalty for the cattle being illegally grazed inside the park, to 50,000/- per animal in order to discourage such behaviour and that, the 600 cattle that have just been confiscated will attract 30 million/-.