By Adam Ihucha
Arusha — Investors in Tourism have donated a new Toyota Land Cruiser worth $40,000 (about Sh90 million) to boost the anti-poaching project in Tanzania’s flagship national park, Serengeti.
Poaching remains a major challenge to conservation and has prompted tourism players in Serengeti to embark on supporting the Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa) through the Frankfurt Zoological Society, by funding the Serengeti De-Snaring Programme.
The programme, the first of its kind, has the objective of removing widespread snares set by local bush meat mongers aimed at catching massive wildlife within the Serengeti National Park (Senapa) and beyond.
“This is our second patrol vehicle for the De-snaring Programme. We support anti-poaching initiatives in the national park that provides an enormous economic benefit to us and the nation,” Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) chairman Wilbard Chambulo said.
Mr Chambulo said that with nearly 700,000 beds in Serengeti, if all investors contribute just a dollar, there would be $700,000 (about Sh1.6 billion) a year, sufficient to save wildlife populations under threat from ruthless gangs of poachers.
Frankfurt Zoological Society had engaged with stakeholders to kick-start the de-snaring programme in April 2017. With initial stakeholder funding, an anti-snaring team has been set up and is already operating in Serengeti.
“With yet another patrol vehicle, we are going to deploy a second team within two weeks to boost the fieldwork beyond Senapa as we intend to cover Maswa Game Reserve and Ngorongoro Conservation Area,” said FZS project manager Erik Winberg.
According to him, the teams consist a retired Tanapa ranger as team leader. An active Tanapa ranger accompanies each group to provide security.
Team recruits are from villages in the Serengeti ecosystem and targets ex-poachers whose experience is used to fight snaring.
Serengeti National Park Chief Warden, Mr William Mwakilema was grateful to tourism investors for chipping in to support Tanapa to fight against poaching.
“As Chief park warden for Serengeti national park, I thank a lot the tourism stakeholders for their incredible support in anti-poaching drive” Mr Mwakilema said.
Tato’s Councilor spearheading conservation drive, Ms Vesna Glamocanin Tibaijuka, said the Serengeti De-snaring Programme has been able to remove 9838 snares, destroy 91 poacher’s camps, nearly 100 animals release alive, 21 poachers arrested, among others in 12-months of existence.