ANTI POACHING campaign in the buffer zone of Tanzania’s flagship national park of Serengeti has been beefed up, as a conservation body has stepped up support of vital working gear.
The anti-poaching cutting-edge equipment valued at 32,000 US dollars donated by the Wildlife Conservation Foundation of Tanzania (WCFT) to Ikona Wildlife Management Area (WMA) on the fringes of Serengeti, comprises radio calls and rangers’ uniforms.
The WCFT will also reinstate a dam to relieve wildlife animals of thirst during dry spells, the Chairperson of the foundation, Mr Eric Pasanisi, pledged shortly after handing over the support at the office of the Ikona WMA in Serengeti District, Mara Region recently.
Way back in 2007, Tanzania saw a surge of elephants poaching, reaching a deadly proportion in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively, and prompting late Mr Gerald Pasanisi to form the Wildlife Conservation Foundation of Tanzania (WCFT).
Through the WCFT he founded with late President Benjamin Mkapa in partnership with former France President late Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, more than 25 four-wheel drive vehicles, fully equipped, were donated to the Wildlife division, alone.
“This is not the last support, we’ll be there for you,” said Mr Pasanisi, admitting that the foundation was noiseless for three years following the death of its founder, Mr Gerald Pasanisi, and its patrons, namely former Presidents George Bush of the US, Valery Giscard d’Estaing of France and Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania.
“My family has resolved to give WCFT a second life, we’re devising fresh documentations and looking for new patrons. We hope in the near future we’ll be in a position to provide more support,” he said.
Receiving the 30 pieces of radio call, a booster and uniforms for 34 rangers on behalf of the Ikona WMA, the Serengeti District Commissioner, Dr Vincent Mashinji, thanked the WCFT, saying the government would continue cooperating with the foundation.
“We consider the foundation as our fellow conservationist,” said Dr Mshinji, urging the Ikona WMA management and rangers, in particular, to take care of the radio calls, uniforms and the water dam.
The Ikona WMA Chairman, Mr Elias Chama, said the WCFT supported them not because the foundation was rich, but rather because it was concerned with conservation of flora and fauna.
The head of the rangers, Mr George Thomas, said with the uniforms, they would do their work confidently.
“We were using our mobile phone handset for communicating to each other,” he said, explaining that the mobile phone handsets were ineffective in areas where network was not stable.
The WCFT Board member, Mr Philemon Mwita Matiko, said the foundation was established in 2000 to fight against poaching. It has since been donating vehicles, radio calls and rangers’ uniforms for strengthening conservation and security of game reserves, particularly Selous.
Ikona WMA was established in 2003 in line with wildlife policy, which calls for participation of communities in conservation by investing in land, sustainable management of wildlife resources and benefiting from them. Currently, there are 22 WMAs countrywide.
Five villages of Robanda, Nyichoka, Nyakitono, Makundusi and Nata-Mbiso established the Ikona WMA, which covers an area of 242.3 square kilometres.
“The WMA is divided into two user zones of photographic and hunting,” the Ikona WMA Secretary, Mr Yusuph Manyanda, said.
About 50 per cent of revenue accrued from the WMA are distributed equally and sent to the villages. Fifteen per cent is earmarked for conservation and the remainder for administration expenses.
The villages use the funds for their development projects, mostly in education, health and water sectors. Besides spreading economic benefit derived from tourism to the villages, Ikona WMA creates a buffer zone for protection of Serengeti National Park.
Mr Manyanda said human-wildlife conflict was a major challenge the WMA was facing, as elephants and lions damaged villagers’ property injured villagers and sometimes killed them.
“Covid-19 pandemic shrank the WMA revenue by 90 per cent, frustrating conservation activities,” said the Ikona WMA Accountant, Ms Miriam Gabriel, explaining, however, that the situation was gradually stabilising, as revenue stood at 63 per cent.
Ikona WMA requests well-wishers to facilitate patrol-running expenses, including fuel, tyres and allowances. It also requests for an anti-poaching vehicle and funds for maintenance of roads within the key corridor for the Great Wildlife Migration.
Ikona WMA serves as an assembly point for vast herds of wildebeest migrating annually north of Serengeti through crossing Mara River.
The pristine wilderness comprises elephants, waterbuck, black and white colobus monkeys, shy leopard and both the greater and the lesser kudu, among others.
“We could not pay salaries for the past four months now,” Ms Gabriel said, pleading with the WCFT to consider becoming Ikona WMA life-term conservation partner to complement the government’s efforts in protecting Serengeti ecosystem.