The chief conservator at NCAA, Dr Freddy Manongi, confirmed that eight big cats were speared to death by villagers after straying from the conservancy.
He said during the period, 25 elephants were killed outside the conservation area, which has been declared a Natural World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Manongi cited human-wildlife conflict as one of the major causes of declining numbers of lions and elephants in the area and other wildlife sanctuaries in the east African nation.
“It’s so sad that we lost seven lions last year and a few days ago one lion was speared to death after feasting on someone’s cattle. Elephants were also killed after eating into people’s farms…this is a very serious challenge in wildlife conservation,” the official lamented.
He revealed that his authority had come up with a new strategy to address human-wildlife conflict in the area.
Dr Manongi said the conflict was fueled by the fact that most of the wildlife corridors have been invaded for settlement and farming.
“So, carnivores like lions attack livestock and this in turn leads to retaliation by humans,” the official said, adding: “This is normally carried out in the form of poisoning, spearing and even shooting.”
In the latest incident, NCAA rangers found two leopard hides in the wilderness of Ngorongoro, revealing that all signs indicated that the wild cats were killed by villagers.
He, however, admitted that the anti-poaching battle was still in top gear “but the challenge remains when wildlife strays outside the conserved area.”
“We have also introduced regular patrols around the conservancy with coverage of 8,292 square kilometres.”
With human populations continuing to grow across their range, habitat loss and degradation - and conflict with communities - will remain major threats to survival of elephants.
It is estimated that about 10,000 elephants are killed every year by poachers in Tanzania, which currently has less than 70,000 jumbos. Presently, the country has only 123 remaining rhinos from about 10,000 in 1970.
Statistics from conservation activists indicate that one elephant is killed by poachers every 15 minutes in Africa and one black rhino eliminated every nine hours in the continent.