How EBN saves wildlife escaping climate change ills in Babati

MANYARA Region might only ring in one’s mind in apparent reference to Lake Manyara (you learnt in Geography as a soda or alkaline lake) or the region, whose economy also depends on mining Tanzanite gems, only to be crowned that it is home to tree-climbing lions.

With its massive body and weight, one would wonder how a lion would climb a tree, something that has also baffled scientists on a game drive as an unforgettable experience.

It could be that they like being up high on trees like Acacia, sycamore as well as candelabras to get a better vantage point to spot potential preys like bushbucks, Impala, it remains that they also do so to escape the heat from the ground and get shelter from the rain.

With a lot of hypothesis from the indigenous groups and multilingual communities inhabiting Manyara Region, which include the Assa, Gorowa, Kw’adza, Mbugwe, Datooga, Maasai, Barabaig, and Irakw, the largest ethnic group in the area, one thing became common that they also climb trees to avoid irritating insects, which crawl and bite them on the ground.

Driving in the region to familiarise with that, especially as a local tourist one would realise that the region is also a sanctuary for hippo, giraffe, impala and zebra, and its lake a magnet for birdlife, including sizeable flocks of pink flamingos. Mahogany and sausage trees are alive with blue and vervet monkeys; elephants feeding on fallen fruits, and bushbuck, baboons and leopard make their homes in the forest.

It is so wonderful to drive in the region that is under Charles Makongoro Nyerere as the Regional Commissioner. In the zigzag drive enjoying watching the beauty of the land, and pitching a tent in Babati District to see the wildlife in their natural habitats, you will come across the EBN Huing Safaris Limited-that owns a hunting block in the vast Burunge Wildlife Management Area (BWMA) composed of 10 villages namely vilima Vitatu, Ngolley, Maweni, Magara, Sangwe, Olasit, Mijinu, Manyara, Mwada and Kako.

According to the BWMA Secretary Benson Mwaise, the area is also feeling the pinch of climate change and hence, experiencing drought and resulting into boreholes and dams going dry and green pastures likewise disappearing and what follows is looming death to the wildlife.

“However, to address the situation EBN Hunting Safaris Limited managing an area of about 283 square kilometers located between Tarangire National Park and Manyara National Park has been digging some boreholes (whose water contents also dry as a result of scorching sun) for the wild animals to get water. “In recent days, they have started dying due to lack of water and drowning in mud due to drought and a case study was reported from the village that a Tiger was stuck in mud and that made it easy for Hyenas to prey on it,” he added.

“Despite the fact that wild animals have started to die, there has also been an increase in incidents of conflicts between the villagers and wildlife due to the wildlife starting to enter into villages in search of water and pasture. “Right now, our area has a large number of wildlife, unlike in the previous years before this block was given to the investor…the wild life have become friends with people and facilitate photo tourism and large groups of wildlife have returned to the block. But, I would suggest they (residents) also cultivate crops like Sesame that is not mostly eaten by wild animals,” he added.

On his part, EBN Relationship Manager, Charles Sylvester said with the support of his Director, Nicolas Negre working in good cooperation with the Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA), Burunge WMA Game Wardens, Wildlife Officers and National Parks soldiers (TANAPA), they have also strengthened anti-poaching patrols in the reserve.

“We spend more than 400m/- per year to combat poaching and especially during this period of drought, when wildlife is moving to the villages in search of water and the likes,” he pointed out.

“Food production has decreased a lot due to climate change, but the good thing is that EBN is providing employment to over 200 Tanzanians, and through tourism they are earning a living. “In our peaceful co-existence with the surrounding communities enabling our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to implement projects, we have helped to build schools, a playground for the villagers, boreholes and share a lot in community development funds” he said.

He said that if it were not for those investors, the living conditions in the 10 villages that make up the Burunge WMA would be in economic difficulty.

A random check on the ground on how the investor relates to the locals and grassroots’ leaders painted a picture of a company that is a darling of the people, despite any teething problem it might have experienced as the parties try to address the common challenges facing them.

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