Fearless: a new way of living for Ruaha's wild animals

25Mar 2020
Aisia Rweyemamu
The Guardian
Fearless: a new way of living for Ruaha's wild animals

WILDLIFE animals especially elephants in Ruaha National Park are now living a fearless life following beefed up strategies set by the government and stakeholders to fight poaching.

Unlike in the past where it was difficult to encounter wildlife animals walking in groups, because they were unstable due to the fearful life they were living.

Speaking, Frank Lihwa, an official from the Southern Tanzania Elephant Programme (STEP) based in Iringa said that poaching incidences have gone down due to strengthened patrols and community engagement.

He said that efforts done by the government and stakeholders tackling poaching in the country have seen the number of wild animals like elephants, buffaloes and giraffes also increasing.

According to him, STEP is an elephant conservation programme, working across southern Tanzania in the critical elephant ecosystems of Ruaha, Udzungwa and Selous, the homes to about half of East Africa’s elephants.

According to him, since the project started in 2013, the number of wildlife seems to be increasing and animals are now walking freely and in groups.

Lihwa told journalists recently during a field visit in the region organised by Journalist on Environment Tanzania (JET) through the project on Promoting Tanzania’s Environment, Conservation and Tourism (PROTECT) funded by the USAID.

He said the project seeks to promote effective and consistent oversight by the media on reporting wildlife conservation, trafficking and poaching in Tanzania.

He added that, since 2018 they have never met a wildlife carcass resulted from poaching, the very few available are due to natural death and not poaching.

“The last time we met carcass was in 2018 but to this day there is no new carcass of elephants,” he stresses.

However, he said the national ant poaching efforts has also contributed to bring positive impact to wild animals.

Lihwa said that there is also a challenge of honey hunters who are not only coming to take honey but they have also been destroying the living organism's growth system by burning down trees which is used as a food by animals.

He added; ”During the dry season we have also faced the challenge of fisherman and honey hunters”.

Speaking about tourism in the region, a tourism officer from the Ministry of tourism and natural resources Paul Isazi noted that lack of adequate accommodation services in the region is among the challenges facing to sector in southern zone.

The tourism officer told journalists that more than 1500 beds are needed in order to improve the sector in the region.

He invited various stakeholders to invest in the area especially in construction of five star hotels for better tourist accommodation.

Isazi said they are working in eight southern regions of the country, to further promote the tourism industry especially in the region.

The southern highlands regions are Morogoro, Iringa, Mbeya, Songwe, Ruvuma, Katavi, Rukwa and Njombe.

Tourism activities in the park include game viewing, long and short wilderness walking safari, bird watching, picnic, bush meals (break-fast, lunch, dinner) in the untouched bushes.

Ruaha National Park is one of national parks in Tanzania. The addition of the Usangu Game Reserve and other important wetlands to the park in 2008 increased its size to about 20,226 km2 (7,809 sq mi), making it the largest protected area in Tanzania and East Africa.