Established in 1922, the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1982.
Covering some 54,600sq.km, the world-famous Selous is Africa’s largest game reserve, and one of the oldest, favourite game-viewing areas, routinely pulling in tourists.
However, the Unesco World Heritage Committee, in reviewing the conservation statuses of about 250 of the over 1,100 World Heritage Sites, planned to de-list some of them. The Selous was one of the 53 World Heritage Sites that were on Unesco’s ‘List of World Heritages in Danger’.
The reasons for wanting to de-register the Selous, we are told, were “rampant elephant poaching, the sale of logging rights, and the construction of a hydropower dam” on River Rufiji within the Selous. All the foregoing, it was claimed, “could cause irreversible damage” to the Game Reserve…
Well, we are told by the permanent secretary of the Natural Resources and Tourism Ministry, Dr Alan Kijazi, that Unesco’s decision to include Selous on the ‘World Heritages in Danger’ list was grossly misinformed. For example, construction of the Julius Nyerere Hydropower Dam on River Rufiji takes a measly 1.8 percent of the Heritage Site area, virtually causing no palpable danger to the wildlife and ecosystems in the Selous. Besides, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature were apprised of the dam’s construction – and also the name-change from Selous Game Reserve to Nyerere National Park in 2019.
We are more than happy to learn that, after the Unesco Committee was informed of all this, it cancelled the planned de-listing, and the Selous Game Reserve-turned Nyerere National Park will continue to grow in wildlife conservation, popularity and economic benefits day to day.
However, this goes with huge responsibilities on the part of Tanzania, to ensure that this unique heritage site is jealously protected in every way possible against any potential threats.
STOP SABOTAGING PROJECTS
There are multiple multibillion projects going on in various parts of Tanzania, intended to ease the provision of social services.
Sadly, reports of theft and sabotage of equipment are rampant, despite stern measures that are taken against the perpetrators.
Lately, the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) suffered a loss of about Sh20 million through stolen equipment in Songea – thus delaying power connection in several wards.
This comes a few months after thefts of materials for construction of the standard gauge railway (SGR) and water connection equipment in several areas were reported.
Apparently, this is only a tip of the iceberg, with similar incidents unreported in the areas of education, health and agriculture, to mention but three.
It is time law enforcers swung into action to dismantle unscrupulous cartels that impede development.
But, to curb such incidents will need involvement of the community because most of the wrongdoers are known.
Citizens should be ready to inform the police on the perpetrators – but some fear for their lives for lack of confidentiality.
Apart from providing toll-free ’phone numbers, there is a need for appropriate education for both law enforcers and the public on how best they can surmount the vice.