FOR the first time key conservation stakeholders of the Serengeti-ecosystem have met in a crucial conference to discuss how best they can continue embracing conservation philosophies of the Father of the Nation Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere.
The conference was held on 14 October when Tanzanians commemorated the 18th Anniversary of Mwalimu’s death. The one day event took place in Mugumu town, the headquarters of Serengeti District in Mara Region.
A larger part of Serengeti district is composed of wildlife conservation areas including the world famous Serengeti National Park (SENAPA) which is bordered by wildlife rich game reserves to the west.
The conference was jointly organized by Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), Serengeti Media Centre (SMC) and Serengeti College of Tourism (SETCO) with support from the European Union (EU), Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) and Singita Grumeti Fund (SGF).
Participants included Serengeti Wildlife Research Centre, Ikona wildlife Management Area local leaders including councilors from the villages around the Serengeti ecosystem and representatives from private and public institutions.
Serengeti District Commissioner (DC) Mr Nurdin Babu commended the organizers of the event and urged people to stop poaching and any other illegal activities that destroy environment like deforestation, so as to honour Mwalimu Nyerere by actions.
“This is a historical conference, taking place for the first time in Serengeti District today. It has never happened before. Mwalimu Nyerere was a crusader against poaching. If Mwalimu was not a fighter, there would be no elephants today. Let us honour him by actions,” Mr Babu said when he was officially opening the conference.
The DC said Mwalimu was also an advocate of tourism which is currently generating a substantial amount of money for the national development. Thus, he advised Tanzanians to embrace and honour the good foundation and efforts initiated by Mwalimu Nyerere on conservation and tourism.
Serengeti Member of Parliament (MP) Mr Ryoba Marwa commended the organizers of the conference to discuss the success and challenges of conservation in the area.
“This is an honour for us, it has never taken place here in the past. I congratulate the organizers for coming up with this idea,” the youthful MP from the opposition CHADEMA ticket said.
Mr Masegeri Tumbuya from Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) said it was good for them to take part in organizing the conference during the commemoration of Mwalimu Nyerere’s death this year to discuss challenges facing the Serengeti ecosystem and put in place effectives strategies to tackle challenges.
“The challenges in the Serengeti ecosystem have been increasing and since Mwalimu Nyerere was an icon of conservation we have decided to meet and discus and put plans to deal with the challenges”, Mr Tumbuya who is also the leader of Serengeti Ecosystem Management at FZS told the ‘Daily News’ at the sidelines of the conference.
As part of his presentation Tumbuya said Mwalimu Nyerere was a close friend to the director of FZS Prof Bernhard Grzimek. With its headquarters in Germany, FZS is an international conservation organization with significant support for conservation projects in Tanzania.
The presence of FZS in the country for more than 50 years now had greatly contributed to ensure that the Serengeti ecology remains intact. “Until today FZS is in Tanzania and aim of FZS is to support the government on conservation “, Mr Tumbuya said.
SENAPA is one of the world heritage sites blessed with beautiful wildlife including the big five, which attracts thousands of tourists from different parts of the world. Speaking on the same occasion, Ms Joyce Mungure from SENAPA’s Community Outreach Services Department said tourism revenue has rose considerably in recent years.
She cited poaching, whereby perpetrators use motorcycles, saying livestock grazing in the park and the neighbhouring game reserves were some of the challenges facing the country’s second largest national park covering 14,763 square kilometres.
“The big challenge we face is poaching. Some poachers are now using motorcycles to kill wild animals. Some crude weapons have been recovered,” Ms Joyce said.
According to her, the park’s department of community outreach services is responsible for providing conservation education to the local communities living in the villages surrounding the park among other things.
“We thought that poaching is done by youth only but even elderly have been involved. We are asking for continued support to eliminate poaching”, Ms Joyce said.