who have encroached conservation areas to vacate within 90 days.
“Three months is a long period of time for huge herds of cattle to remain within conservation areas because these animals are very destructive,” said Abdallah Muha a resident of Makao village in Maswa district.
Muha who is a member of the village’s environment committee said Prof Maghembe’s order is timely and if implemented fully will help conservation areas recover from destruction caused by pastoralists over the past year.
“Our wildlife conservation area is an important asset which has earned us income from tourism but also protected our land from serious degradation,” Muha argued.
Cecilia Mwambeja from Buturi village also paid tribute to Maghembe saying at least he is a minister who has taken action against the invaders.
“These pastoralists don’t belong here, they come from Shinyanyanga, Arusha, Manyara and Dodoma to invade our conservation area,” she said pointing at the destruction caused by thousands of herds of cattle camping within Maswa Game Reserve and Makao Wildlife Conservation Area.
She urged Prof Maghembe to make sure that his order stands at the end of 90 days because the pastoralists are financially powerful and buy royalty from public officials. “We hope he will be strong and won’t bulge to their pressure,” Mwambeja noted.
Last month, Minister Maghembe was widely criticised by conservation activists for giving a three month ultimatum to pastoralists who have invaded conservation areas. Dismissing arguments by the activists, Prof Maghembe pointed out that he was simply being realistic.
“I was very clear when I made this directive. Just imagine there are more than two million herds of cattle in the Muyovosi-Kigosi protected area. You cannot remove such a large number of animals overnight,” Prof Maghembe argued.
He emphasised that after the grace period there will be no negotiations and dire consequences will befall adamant pastoralists who resist voluntary departure.
“By giving them the grace period to vacate the protected areas I was just being humane,” he said, adding that there was a lot of politics when it came to issues involving pastoralists.
Ecologists argue that most of the cattle utilizing Maswa do not belong to the immediate communities along the boundary of the reserve. Large immigrant herds from Shinyanga, Mwanza, Bariadi and Singida are common.
Maswa Game Reserve was gazetted in 1974 through the Wildlife Act but activists argue that so far approximately 30 percent of its area has been forfeited through encroachment.
A February 2014 survey of the area indicated that huge herds of cattle were grazing within the reserve causing extensive damage.
The Maasai and Datoga tribes are accused of encroaching the Maswa GR and Makao WCA through the western boundary of Ngorongoro. The Sukuma are also said to be active players here.