These are strictly my observations during our visit regarding the wildlife poaching status in Tanzania.
Wildlife by the thousands, no millions! But with the losses across the continent what is the wildlife poaching status in Tanzania?
Tanzania’s 16 national parks comprise a total area of more than 42,000 km2. About 38% of the country is set aside as protected. These reserves are home to a large variety of wildlife species. Reportedly, 430 species and subspecies comprise the country’s more than four million wild animals. These include zebras, elephants, wildebeests, buffaloes, hippos, giraffes, antelopes, dik-diks, gazelles, elands and kudus.
A ranger’s perspective of the wildlife poaching status in Tanzania
Evans, a game ranger in the Serengeti, tells us that poaching has picked up over the past year. Prior it was more subsistence poaching in the Serengeti, today wildlife body parts are being sold in the bushmeat (wildlife trafficking) market. Protecting a vast area like the Serengeti is a big challenge. He did say most of the poaching is happening on the fringes.
“The Serengeti is a vast ecosystem in east-central Africa. It spans 12,000 square miles (30,000 square kilometers) giving rise to its name, which is derived from the Maasai language and means “endless plains.” This region of Africa is located in north Tanzania and extends to southwestern Kenya.” (Livescience.com)
The country’s new President John Magufuli is making numerous changes we’re told. Many address corruption so we’re hopeful this will be in the best interest of wildlife.
Deon a manager of a popular camp near Arusha and a 20 year resident in Tanzania echoed Evans comments. Evans further told us why we found no rhino in the Serengeti. They are restricted to a separate area, under 24 hour guard. Access is strictly controlled. How many there are we don’t know. However, there is a recent controversy over black rhino in the Ngorongoro Crater. Especially one that apparently went missing. (Read about it here.)
What about the other reserves? A fellow guest at a camp in the southern part of Tanzania had just returned from Ruaha National Park. They saw a dead hippo and came across a lion kill. In both instances the absence of vultures was striking. When she inquired of their safari guide she learned that poachers had poisoned them all! We were very glad to see many vultures in the Serengeti.
Speaking of the Serengeti… We saw many herds of well fed wildebeest and zebra (in December.) Also predators like lion, leopard, jackal and hyena (sadly no cheetah), all looked in good health. Does this mean all is well? I don’t profess to know the answer to that. However, it was an absolute privilege to see so much wildlife during our recent visit to the Serengeti.
May all stake holders of Tanzania’s wildlife (which includes all of us on the planet really) be ever cognizant of doing our part to stop the poaching. This includes NEVER buying products made from wildlife body parts. Outside the Serengeti a vendor approached me with an armful of necklaces carved from bone or horn. I told him, “I do not buy anything made from bone or horn.” He gave me a strange look and quickly grabbed for other merchandise… I’d made my point.
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