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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Serengeti MP aghast at rhino killing with ease

26th May 2012

Serengeti MP Dr Kebwe Steven Kebwe has described the recent killing of two rhinos by poachers in the Serengeti National Park as an act of economic sabotage.

He told a press conference yesterday in Dar es Salaam that killers of these animals get easy access to the national park, reaching the special integrated project area in the park known as ‘MORU’ where the animals were located.

The incident was a serious reversal of progress that Tanzania was making to raise the mammal’s population, he said, citing poor security in the area as explaining the poachers’ act of sabotage.

He urged the government through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism to boost security in the area, as the current number of game rangers in Serengeti stands at 461 and is not enough to ensure focused security duties in an area of 14,000 square kilometers of the MORU project zone specifically.

The government must increase efforts to guard the rhinos and if possible it should double the number of game rangers stationed in the area, he said.

Killing the two rhinos hit at efforts being made by the government and other parties to boost the population of the endangered animal by bringing more rhinos to the Serengeti, one of their principal ancestral homes, the legislator noted.

He was surprised to see that no one up to now is being held by law enforcers to account for the brutal slaughter of critically endangered black rhinos.

He also cautioned the government to look at working conditions of game rangers as they conduct a miserable and pathetic life due to low salaries they obtain.

Few housing facilities and unfavorable location involving large distances from their working point was an exacerbating factor fueling mischief that could harm their employers’ properties.

Modern security measures like those used in South African national parks are needed, despite that this could be more costly than current arrangements, he said, noting that otherwise it is hard to figure out how the prized rhino is going to survive.

One method is by using small airplanes flying over which could take note of culprits penetrating into the zone, he said.

This is the second time rhinos have been killed at the Serengeti, as last year a rhino named ‘George’ was killed, one among five eastern black rhinos transferred from South Africa to the Serengeti, where they were received by President Jakaya Kikwete.

The survival of rare wildlife species that are the main magnet of the multi-million dollar tourism industry was under threat, according to a recent study.  

The report was prepared under the auspices of the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) in the wake of the killing of a black rhino relocated in Serengeti from South Africa.

“This is a terrible setback for the project and an alarming incident as it could mean that the poaching wave that currently rocks South Africa is beginning to spill over to Tanzania,” lamented Dr Mark Borner, head of FZS Africa Department.

The rhino transfer project was jointly undertaken by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, the Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa), the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (Tawiri), the South African National Parks (SANParks) and the Grumeti Fund.

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