Tanzania: Samia Nails It On Ngorongoro Tipping Point

PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan has expressed concerns over a threat facing Ngorongoro Conservation Area, saying the soaring human population jeopardises the wildlife in the world's greatest unbroken caldera.

President Samia called upon respective authorities, such as the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) to take the matter seriously.

The president warned that Ngorongoro is on the brink of vanishing as a conserved area.

She recalled the agreement that Ngorongoro would be a special conservation area whereby people and wildlife will live together, noting at the time of its establishment there were only 9,000 people.

With between 90,000 and 100,000 people now residing in the area, Mama Samia said it is definite that animals will be overwhelmed and hence Ngorongoro will no longer maintain its status as a world heritage site.

Ngorongoro conservation area spans vast expanses of highland plains, savanna, savanna woodlands and forests.

Established in 1959 as a multiple land use area, with wildlife co-existing with semi-nomadic Maasai pastoralists practicing traditional livestock grazing, it includes the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater.

"Ngorongoro is vanishing. We agreed that it is a special area where people and wildlife live together. But when we agreed (to make it a conservation area) there were only 9,000 people but now there are ... between 90,000 and 100,000 people and the Authority and the Ministry you are just there ... so Ngorongoro is vanishing," said President Samia who seemed to be much concerned about the issue.

This comes less than four months since NCAA senior conservators and the then Ministry of Natural Resources Permanent Secretary (PS), Dr Alloyce Nzuki talked of the matter, saying it was then or never that action be taken to save the caldera ending in tatters.

They said that at a seminar organised at the NCAA Headquarters for editors and senior journalists. The situation is threatening the wellbeing of one of the world's natural wonders that has an enormous crater, attracting millions of foreign and local tourists, earning Tanzania billions of shillings annually.

Dr Nzuki said a team had been formed to look at the matter and propose a solution to the same. The Controller and Auditor General (CAG) has also issued an alert and urged stakeholders to get equilibrium to the state of affairs.

NCAA Conservation Commissioner (CC), Dr Freddy Manongi, was of the view that while human development is crucial, conservation and wildlife protection remains vital and is a tourism attraction.

Dr Manongi said the pressure keeps piling day in day out, closely arriving at the tipping point, a difficult time driving the officials and stakeholders to stretch their minds to the limit to come up with solutions.

The situation has got to be addressed otherwise in a decade or so the multiple land use plan will fail. Needed is a new decision so as to have sustainable development to wildlife, conservation and the people.

The previous Parliament looked into the matter, formed a team that looked into the matter and proposed a way forward. Reaching the breaking points raises conservators and human rights activists.

Personal Assistant to the CC, Mr Elibariki Bajuta noted that the population growth comes from parenting, kids growing and others migrating to the NCAA from other areas.

But yesterday, President Samia said that there are also Ngorongoro workers and retirees who have decided to relocate and live within NCA, something that is contributing to an increased population, warning that it is time to decide if the status of Ngorongoro is maintained or if it is a 'bye-bye', tell the world otherwise so that it is struck off the register of world heritage.

She said Ngorongoro sells Tanzania as a tourism destination, directing the respective authorities to take action, by ensuring that no more people enter the NCA and look at the matter seriously with an alternative of moving some people to other areas out of the conserved area.

Mama Samia noted that another reason for Ngorongoro status to be twisted for worse is invasive weeds (varieties of trees and grass).

She called upon the respective authorities to address the issue of minerals that are in the NCA and see what action to take.

The president had earlier also told the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism new Permanent Secretary, Dr Allan Kijazi to address the same issue in national parks as minerals are needed for sale and increase revenue to the nation

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