Investors dish out Sh150 million to boost anti-poaching drive

Monday October 18 2021
Tourism pic

Game drives are popular activities in Serengeti National Park. PHOTO |FILE

By The Citizen Reporter

Arusha. Tourism players have pumped a multimillion shillings into an extensive anti-poaching programme designed to protect the priceless wildlife heritage into the country’s wild animals-richest Serengeti National Park.

The vast plains of the Serengeti comprise 1.5 million hectares of savannah, harbour the largest remaining unaltered migration of two million wildebeeste and hundreds of thousands of gazelles and zebras - followed by theirpredators - in a 1,000 kilometre long annual circular trek spanning the two adjacent countries of Tanzania and Kenya.

Under the auspices of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (Tato), tourism investors have dished out Sh150 million to boost a de-snaring programme, thus redoubling their commitment in a bloody war against the silence, but deadly, poaching in Serengeti.

The Permanent Secretary at the Natural Resources and Tourism Ministry, Dr Allan Kijazi, says the once poverty-driven subsistence poaching has slowly, but surely, graduated into large-scale and commercial poaching, thus putting Tanzania’s flagship national park under renewed pressure after a five-year virtual lull.

Indeed, this forgotten form of poaching responsible for mass wildlife killings in Serengeti has prompted tourism stakeholders to chip in and establish a de-snaring programme in mid-April 2017, under a Public/Private Partnership (P/PP) model involving Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa), Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) and themselves.

Handing over the Sh150 million cheque from Tato to the German FZS, implementing the de-snaring programme, the Natural Resources and Tourism minister, Dr Damas Ndumbaro, extolled the stakeholders for putting money to where their mouths eat.

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“I’m sincerely thanking Tato for this incredible initiative to support anti-poaching drive. This move will guarantee the safety of our precious national park and the priceless wildlife within,” Dr Ndumbaro stated.

He vowed to work hand in hand with Tato in furthering conservation drive and developing the tourism industry.

Tato chairman, Mr Wilbard Chambullo said that before the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, tour operators used to voluntarily contribute a single dollar per tourist they receive, but owing to the wave of the pandemic the investors had to close their facilities and sent back home all their staff.

In its painstaking efforts to survive Tato under United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) support put up health infrastructures such as Covid-19 samples collection centres at Seronera and Kogatende in Serengeti where the organization introduced a Sh40,000 and Sh20,000 fees per sample from Tato and non-Tato members respectively.

“We, in Tato, unanimously resolved to donate the money we’ve collected from these Covid-19 sample collection centres to boost the de-snaring programme,” Mr Chambullo said, drawing applause from the audience.

De-snaring Progamme’, the first of its kind, implemented by the FZS - an internationally-renowned conservation organization, with over 60-years of experience - is designed to remove the widespread snares set by local bush meat mongers to trap mass wildlife within the Serengeti and beyond.

Commenting, on this, the Country Director for Frankfurt Zoological Society, Dr. Ezekiel Dembe, expressed gratitude to the tour operators for integrating the conservation concept into their business model.

“This is a new norm to our business community to contribute towards conservation drive. Our slogan for the last 60 years has been - and will remain to be - ‘Serengeti shall never die!’

“I’m proud that tour operators are now joining our efforts, ” Dr Dembe concluded.

Commenced mid-April 2017, the de-snaring programme has been successfully managed to remove a total of 59, 521 wire snares, saving the 893 wild animals alive to date.

The FZS study indicates that the wire snares are responsible for the mass killing of 1,515 wild animals in Serengeti national park in a span of April 2017 up to the 30th of September 2021.