- Published on Tuesday, 03 January 2012 23:59
- Written by DAILY NEWS Reporter
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PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete has directed the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) to study imminent extinction of Roosevelt Sable Antelope from the Saadani National Park, where the mammal species were plenty.
The president made the directive to the TAWIRI Director General, Dr Simon Mduma, early this week after receiving Tanzania Elephant Management Plan, from the institute at Serengeti National Park in Mara Region.
According to a statement issued by the Directorate of Presidential Communications in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday, President Kikwete also directed TAWIRI to research on means of restoration the mammal species known in Swahili as Palahala, in their natural habitats like the Saadani National Park.
He insisted that Palahala were beautiful and attractive creatures that visitors to the Saadani National Park value, especially those going for photo tourism.
It is named after explorer and hunter Kermit Roosevelt, son of former US President Theodore Roosevelt. Sometimes called East African sable, which is inappropriate, because the common sable has an equally extensive distribution in East Africa.
They were many from the Shimba Hills near the southeastern coast of Kenya, southward discontinuously in coastal Tanzania east to the Selous Reserve, Kilombero Valley and south to the Ruvuma River along the Tanzania - Mozambique border.
During 1998 aerial survey counted 3,900 Palahala in the Selous and another 6,700 outside it, particularly to the southeast.
The Antelope stands 120 to 140 centimetres at the shoulder and weigh between 200 and 270 kilogrammes, males being larger than females. Female Sable Antelope are chestnut to dark brown darkening as they mature while males are very distinctively black.
Both sexes have a white underbelly, white cheeks and a white chin. They have a shaggy mane on the back of their neck. Sable antelope have ringed horns which arch backward, in females these can reach a metre, but in males they can reach over one and a tenth metre. The life span of these animals is up to 18 years.
When sable antelopes are threatened by predators, including lions, they will confront it, using their horns.
Many of these have died during such fights. Despite their effectiveness, the sable's horns have contributed to the sharp decline of the animal by poachers.
President Kikwete has also directed indepth investigations on reasons behind sharp decline of elephant populations in Selous and Mikumi National Parks over the last few years.
This follows shocking report by TAWIRI to the president, which indicates that over 30,000 elephants had perished.
Dr Mduma told the president that 2006 census in Mikumi and Selous showed that there were 74,900 elephants in both parks but the 2009 census found only 43,552 elephants.
The TAWIRI's plan has identified strategies and priorities to be implemented in order to conserve and manage elephants in the next five years.
Tanzania like many other elephant range state experienced a period of severe poaching episodes and for many years, the elephant numbers were reported to decline.
In 1976, the Selous elephant population was estimated at about 110,000. By 1986 poaching was estimated to have decreased the Selous elephant population to about 55,000.
Apart from poaching, the current threat to the survival of elephant is loss of suitable habitats. The increase in human population and expansion of economic activities has drastically reduced the elephant ranges.
Elephants are therefore forced to live in isolated pockets of protected areas. In most cases, these areas are surrounded by densely populated human settlements and contact between people and elephants in these areas are common.