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Wildlife at risk as road crashes rise

CONCERTED efforts are needed to curb road accidents involving animal and bird species, as alarming figures of fatal wildlife road accidents rise.

In just 58km of 47 transects of Tarangire Manyara Ecosystem (TME) in the northern part of the country, a record 380 animals and birds were killed by vehicles in the area last year.

Director of Centre for Wildlife Management Studies, Dr Bernard Kissui, unveiled the figures at Burunge Wildlife Management Area (WMA) on Thursday, saying the road accidents were detrimental to wildlife as on average each day an animal or bird was killed.

In the figures there is no lion killed as erroneously reported earlier.

“Road accidents involving animals and birds are rising at an alarming rate. Last year, 380 animals and bird species were killed in road accidents. The bloody spot is Kwakuchinja. This has to be stopped,” said Dr Kissui who is a specialist in lion research.

He noted that there was a big problem that must be addressed by both the government and the private sector and proposed that in wildlife corridors be constructed flyovers or underpass to reduce an increase in wildlife loss.

Dr Kissui was also of the opinion that some speed humps and cameras should be installed in the areas to record the incidents and authorities take necessary actions, set up warning sign posts in the areas and warned that the situation was a multisectoral issue.

In a field visit by journalists from the Journalists’ Environmental Association of Tanzania (JET) supported by the United State Agency for International Development (USAID), Dr Kissui said other species in danger and killed were aves and reptilia.

He said some of the causes were attributed to high speed and carelessness of drivers, animals’ attitude in moving around especially at night, adding that most lions were killed during the rainy season. He said elephants were also killed in their corridors.

The field visit was preceded by three-day training of 30 journalists across the country in biodiversity conservation reporting.

Training built their capacity to disseminate a biodiversity conservation message and raised awareness and passion for reporting conservation issues.

USAID and JET support journalists by providing a fivemonth mentorship programme, field visits and story grants.

The project was a success as it helped to create awareness not only on conservation matters, but also on tourism.

Burunge WMA is located in Tanzania’s wildliferich northern tourist circuit and is close to both Tarangire and Manyara national parks.

It is about 18km from the main gate of Tarangire National Park, 20km from Majimoto and Tarangire airstrips and less than 10km from the southern boundary of Lake Manyara National Park.

WMA is bisected by Arusha- Babati-Singida-Dodoma Road. It occupies land and migratory corridors between Tarangire, Lake Manyara and the adjacent Manyara Ranch, making it an area of considerable conservational significance.

The area is widely known for its large buffalo population that moves in and out of Tarangire.

The presence of Lake Burunge in WMA attracts the migration of water birds such as greater and lesser flamingos and a range of ducks and shore birds.

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