Ngorongoro. The government has been asked to upgrade the status of a 4,000-square kilometre of Loliondo Game Controlled Area (LGCA) to protect wild animals, especially wildebeest, which use it as a corridor between Serengeti and Ngorongoro during migration. The LGCA is considered an integral part of the greater Serengeti ecosystem.
Speaking at the headquarters of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), the director-general of NCAA, Dr Freddy Manongi said raising the status of the game controlled area would help sustain the migration described as the biggest in the world.
He was responding to questions posed by Tanga journalists, who toured Ngorongoro under the Tanga Rural and Environment Journalists Association.
“There is a big concentration animals in Loliondo, especially wildebeest, which migrate to or from Ngorongoro, where it is safe for them to breed,” he pointed out. He said was why they had been pushing for upgrading the status of Loliondo to protect the wild animals.
The LGCA was established by Government Notice No. 269 of 1974 for purely protection of wildlife although it is believed that it attained that status as far back as 1958. However, like other game controlled area, its creation did not eradicate existing villages since the famous Wildlife Management Act of 1974 did not restrict livestock grazing and human presence in the game controlled area as is the case with current legislature –the Wildlife Conservation Act No. 5 of 2009.
A report titled Loliondo GCA is diminishing, released last year by Otterlo Business Corporation (OBC) and quoted by this Newspaper (The Citizen) said that the destruction of wildlife breeding areas and invasion of wildlife movement routes is what is worrying ecological experts the most. OBC which has its origins in the United Arab Emirates had leased the area for trophy hinting since 1992.
This had led to a longstanding dispute with traditional livestock herders in the area which includes the entire Loliondo Division, Loliondo Township and other settlements.
Dr. Manongi says that by raising the status of the LGCA, the government would help in preserving the area as an important corridor for maintaining the migration and wildlife conservation in general.
According to some notes gleaned from Richard Knocker, one of the original Nomad Guides in East Africa the clockwise movement of the migration, is determined by seasonal rains and the availability of grazing between the short and long rains – November to April.
“The wildebeest want to be in the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti. That’s near Ndutu, Gol and Southern Loliondo, but the water and grazing cannot support them all year round. This is where they choose to give birth to their young with rich grass to support them. That’s usually February and March,” Knocker is quoted explaining how the migration works..
Knocker pointed out that not all the wildebeest and zebra follow the same route though and part of the migration heads to the western corridor and the Grumeti River before heading north. “Significant numbers also go up through Loliondo, or via Seronera and Lobo,” he said.