DAR ES SALAAM, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian ecologists on Friday raised concern over the blocking of wildlife corridors linking the protected areas with the adjacent ecosystems.
The ecologists working with the Arusha-based Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) said the growing problem should urgently be jointly addressed by all stakeholders, including local governments and the surrounding communities.
Maria Saidia, head of conservation department at the Arusha National Park, said: "The blockage of our only remaining wildlife corridor is a matter of concern."
A wildlife corridor is a link of wildlife habitat, generally native vegetation, which joins two or more larger areas of similar wildlife habitat. Corridors are critical for the maintenance of ecological processes including allowing for the movement of animals and the continuation of viable populations.
She said the 322 square kilometer park near Arusha city has only the Kisimiri route used by the animals to move to and from the adjacent nature reserves such as Mount Kilimanjaro and the game-rich Longido and West Kilimanjaro plains.
Ecologists at the Tarangire National Park expressed similar concerns, saying a wildlife corridor which once linked it with Lake Manyara National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) and other areas has been effectively blocked by human activities, including farming, construction of structures and grazing of livestock.
In the past, they said, the corridor stretched between Makuyuni township in Monduli district and the Minjingu phosphate mines in Babati district.
At Lake Manyara National Park, the problem has been encroachment by human settlements from the fast-growing Mto wa Mbu township and settlements at Jangwani, the north-eastern side of the lake whose northern half is a protected area, they said.
Pendaeli Shafuri, an officer in charge of community outreach at the Arusha National Park, said in addressing the problem, the local people were being sensitized on the need to reduce pressure on the fragile ecology of the park.
"We will also assist the villagers in preparing appropriate land use plans friendly to being a neighbor to a protected area such as the national park," said Shafuri.