VP urges research on invasive species

VICE-PRESIDENT Dr Philip Mpango on Tuesday challenged conservation agencies to engage researchers in controlling the spread of invasive species in protected areas.

Speaking after laying the foundation stone on the ongoing construction of the proposed Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), Dr Mpango urged conservation commissioners to liaise with experts in removing the species that are reportedly wreaking havoc in a number of conserved areas in the country.

The Vice-President singled out experts based at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) and the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) as the go-to institutions in dealing with non-native species.

“We need to closely engage these experts if we truly want to find a lasting resolve to this crisis,” the VP said.

According to Dr Mpango, such species were likely to jeopardise conservation efforts as some weren’t edible but harmful to the country’s flora and fauna.

“If anything, these species suppress the growth of other edible plants in the rangelands,” he said.

Dr Mpango’s assertion comes as a number of protected areas including the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) is still grappling with invasive species.

In the recent past, the area was said to be flourishing with Parthenium hysterophorus, a species of flowering plant in the aster family and Gutenbergia Cordifolia, an unpalatable invasive plant, posing serious threat to the survival of the flora and fauna of the area which is also a global Man-Biosphere Reserve.

Wildlife experts, have on a number of occasions, warned that the fast spread of the killer weeds could hamper wildebeest crossing over to Ndutu during the ongoing annual spectacle.

NCA isn’t the only protected area bearing the brunt of invasive species as Arusha National Park is also braving Solanum incanum better known as the Sodom Apple.

In the same vein, Dr Mpango called on conservation officers to be extra vigilant in protecting the country’s natural attractions.

The Vice-President urged the conservationists against colluding with individuals attempting to sabotage and compromise conservation efforts in the country.

“The security and safety of your rangers need to be your number one priority,” added the Vice-President.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, more than 15 conservation rangers have lost their lives in the line of duty, while 57 others have sustained severe injuries while protecting Tanzania’s flora and fauna.

Sitting on a 4,200 squaremeters of land located at Kamin estate in Karatu district, the 12.9bn/- project is expected to feature among others, housing units for conservation commissioners, health facility, recreational facilities and a yard once it comes to fruition in October 2023.

It is part of President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s directive of decongesting NCA, which goes parallel with the voluntary relocation of indigenous communities to Msomera village in Handeni District, Tanga Region.

On his part, NCAA’s Deputy Conservation Commissioner Elibariki Bajuta informed the Vice- President that the conservation agency had registered around 612,000 tourists, as of April this year.

This equates to 163.7bn/- worth of revenues accrued by the entity, which boasts of being the only protected area in Sub-Saharan Africa with internationally significant geological features.

“We want to make NCA a sustainable area in the next 100 years,” he added.

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