Tanzania in drive to save its largest park from illegal grazing

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-01 05:07:42|Editor: huaxia
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ARUSHA, Tanzania, June 30 (Xinhua) -- Authorities in the southern highlands of Tanzania on Friday announced measures to address livestock's invasion in Ihefu Basin, the main source of Great Ruaha River, which is a lifeline of Ruaha National Park, the country's largest sanctuary.

Amos Makalla, Mbeya Regional Commissioner unveiled the measures when he visited Ihefu wetland that acts as a natural buffer for the Great Ruaha River, the major source of hydro-electric power as well as pouring water for large scale rice farming in Mbarali District.

The official said that despite the government's efforts of making the basin free from human interactions, some pastoralists have started taking livestock into the area, the action that threatens the survival of Ruaha National Park and people's livelihoods, particularly those who engage in rice cultivation.

"These actions are intolerable. We have changed the fines imposed on defaulters. The government will seize all livestock that will be found in the wetlands. No fine will be charged against the perpetrators," Makala said.

"I am aware that some pastoralists have been taking cattle into the protected area because they can be able to pay fines, but now we've revised the penalties and from now on, all livestock that will be found in the wetland will be confiscated and auctioned," Makalla said.

Alexander Haguma, a conservator from Ruaha National Park said that since 2008, when livestock keepers and their families were forcibly removed from their villages in the Ihefu Basin, in the country's southern highlands, under a government program to protect the wetlands, vegetation cover had started replenishing in the area.

"We've witnessed changes in the wetland," Haguma said, adding that wild animals such as elephants and birds which were disappeared have started coming back into the Ihefu Basin.

"That's why we want supports from local communities and Tanapa to reinforce conservation of the important water source."

Located in Mbeya Region, the wetland, which is the main source of Great Ruaha River, is currently managed by Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa). The river is the lifeline of Ruaha National Park and millions of people living in the water body.

In 2006, Tanzanian government moved in to expand the Ruaha National Park to protect water and local wetlands, reducing the area available for farming and grazing. Enditem