Migration into Serengeti disturbing conservators

HERDERS take onto their heels escaping from camera after trespassing into part of Serengeti National Park with their sheep. (Photo by Marc Nkwame)

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HERDS of cattle from parts of Loliondo Division in Ngorongoro District have once more started mass migration into Serengeti National Park, much to the dismay of conservators.

Already the ongoing annual wildebeest migration, currently crossing back to Tanzania, heading South from Maasai Mara in Kenya, is suffering the impact of livestock crossing their paths.

While in the past livestock keepers living in villages surrounding Serengeti National Park devised new methods of trespassing into the conserved area, by driving their large herds of cattle into the game park during the night, this time the park encroaching takes place in broad daylight.

“Some herders are doing it, but some of us who know the laws steer clear from the reserved areas,” one of the local Maasai pastoralists at Ololoosokwan, Mr Michael Lengaiyai, said.

According to the herdsman, most of the cattle feeding all the way into Serengeti, hailed from Soitsambu and Oloosokwan villages in Loliondo Division of Ngorongoro District, “Because there is drought everywhere and our livestock have been dying.”

On what would happen if lions, leopards and other ferocious carnivores attacked the livestock, the Maasai herder said those that took cattle into the parks usually didn’t mind if a lion ate one or two animals because as far as they were concerned, it was better to lose two cows to lions than ten cows to drought.

The Conservator in Charge of Eastern Zone in Serengeti, Mr Amani Shipella, said they had been confiscating the cattle with the aim of arraigning the owners, but the exercise was proving to be very expensive.

“Our job is to take care of wildlife and not livestock; and once we take cattle under our charge, their upkeep costs money and this has so far amounted to 98 million/-,” said Mr Shipella.

Sometimes park rangers drive the cattle for over 20 kilometres towards their base and during this time, other Maasai warriors would be trying to follow them with weapons while riding on motorbikes. Affected areas include the Kleins Corner, the surrounding ranger post sections, the Leng’osa area all the way to Lobo Kopjes.

The fact that cattle wear bells, the clinging of metallic chimes have been reported to scare wildlife away, especially wildebeests now that the migration is back from Maasai Mara.

The Chief Conservator at Serengeti, Mr William Mwakilema, said they had raised the penalty for grazing cattle inside the park from 50,000/- to 100,000/- per animal, in order to discourage the trend.

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