Endangered beauty of Rufiji Delta

Saturday September 28 2019

Mangrove Capital in Africa (MCP) project

Mangrove Capital in Africa (MCP) project Consultant Emmanuel Japheth stands on a piece of land that was previously occupied by a mangrove forest. Human economic activities have been leading to destructions of natural vegetation cover in Mawanda Village within the Rufiji Delta. PHOTO | GADIOSA LAMTEY 

By Gadiosa Lamtey @gadiosa2 news@thecitizen.co.tz

Kibiti. For years now, a number of tourists from around the world have been flocking to Nyamisati Village, Kibiti District in Coast Region to enjoy a sight of water birds migrating from different countries.

However, the birds; a beautiful scenery of the Rufiji Delta, is now in danger of disappearing.

Known for constantly hovering the serene and tranquil sky of Nyamisati, the birds have been surviving in the area due to their liking for the turbulent swash of the Rufiji Delta water and the mangrove trees on the river banks.

Environmental scientists say the human activities taking place in Nyamisati are contributing to the decline of the mangrove trees and eventually posing a threat to the birds’ survival. This, in turn, affect tourism.

The mangroves in Rufiji are home to many iconic species, ranging from fish above, migratory water birds many of which are in flight from the European winter, sea turtles nesting on beaches secured by mangrove roots, crabs and shrimp that thrive in mangrove shallows, and wildlife.

This reporter witnessed a huge chunk of land (about 500 acres) at the area known as Mawanda within the Rufiji Delta where farming activities has turned it into a large football ground.

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Mangrove vegetation of about 500 acres has been destroyed because of logging activities, farming and animal feeding.

Experts are now calling for urgent response to restore the area’s ecology for the benefit of both villagers, the government and the economy in general.

In the latest attempt to save the ecology and the water birds from disappearing, a project run by Mangrove Capital in Africa (MCP), has sought to protect the trees and restore the ecology that has been destroyed by unregulated human activities.

A similar project is also being run in Senegal and is funded by BOB Ecology and undertaken by Wetland International.

MCP project consultant, Mr Emmanuel Japheth told The Citizen that research is ongoing in the area as the experts lay groundwork for planting more than 40,000 seedlings of the trees by December this year at Mawanda as pilot project.

“Research conducted last year proved that more than 90 different birds that immigrate form various countries have come to the area due to the presence of the mangroves but may return after seeing destruction at the area,” he said.

Mr Japheth said there are kind of birds whose livelihoods depend on mangroves, insisting that the need to restore the mangrove vegetation and preventing farming activities at the area were no longer options but a choice that environmentalists have to make.

“To make this project a success we must work very closely with villages, so in this stage we have directed village leaders to announce date for people to submit their request of participate,” he said.

He said the project was critical as far as attracting tourists is concerned and in protecting soil erosion, tackling dwindling fish stock.

He said the project will be implementing in six villages in Kibiti.

Mangroves and their biodiversity are healthy, improving the livelihoods of millions of people and protecting them against the dangers of climate change

Kibiti District Commissioner Mr Gulam Kifu said, “I will make sure this project succeeds and make this area more popular for tourist activities.”

He said there are laws in place to restrict pastoralists from feeding their livestock in the area set aside for mangrove planting.

Residents

Nyamisati Village Officer, Mr Jumanne Kikumbi said, “The area of Mawanda is used by more than 100 farmers who engaged in paddy. So the project of restoration is very important and we village leaders will ensure the community is part of it.”

Ms Halima Salehe a Nyamisati resident said the project will help in promote the area and make businesses grow.