Selous Game reserve is the largest protected wildlife area in Africa, due to unique ecological importance.
Assistant Director, Wildlife department in the Ministry of Natural Resource and Tourism Canisius Karamaga said this in Tunduru adding that shifting cultivation near and along the Selous game reserve has partly contributed to increased human-wildlife conflicts in some villages in the district.
He also cited recent increased invasion of livestock keepers into the Selous Game Reserve and near and in the newly established Park which is part of what is known as Selous Game Reserve, Nyerere National Park as another human activity that has aggravate the human-wildlife conflicts.
“We should ask ourselves why such cases of elephant invading villagers’ crop were not many in the past ? Some of the reasons are because some human activities such as shifting cultivation, improper management of land use plans and livestock invasion into the game reserve have disrupted wildlife,” he said.
Responding to the plea raised by Tunduru authorities on the increasing elephant invasions into several villages, he said the Ministry is taking short and long term measures to mitigate the human-wildlife conflicts in district he directed each village with wildlife management areas (WMA) to use village game scout. “These village game scouts have already been trained, for the time being, they should be able to help,” he said.
He said these villages have also supportive militias who can be used because they have knowledge on animal behavior.
There are also reports and scientific research through TAWIRI which helps. They show and indicate when and where is the location and direction of the elephants whether in Selous or crossing the border to Mozambique and the time of coming back.
“If we collaborate and join hands with the district, stakeholders like TAWA, TNRF, public education will continue, there shall be proper management of land use plan, the villagers grow their crop in one area instead of shifting cultivation and addition budget and game scouts, I am sure, we will get rid of this problem,” he said.
“TANAPA has done a good work of conducting land use plan. The every good thing every WMA being established must have land use plan and must be recorded but the challenge we have is lack of proper management of these plans. TANAPA is expected also to conduct land use plan at Nyerere National Park but this wnt help if there is no land use plan.
He assured that “We are all here to support the district efforts to protect both people, their property and the surrounding natural resources.
“I understand that Tunduru district has several wildlife corridors, big and minor ones. Instead of describing presence of wildlife as a problem, lets work together and regard this as lack and opportunity for tourism.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism has launched the Human-Wildlife conflict management strategy (2020-2024) to minimize conflicts in the wildlife areas.
The strategy was launched in Dodoma over the weekend by Minister for Natural Resource and Tourism Dr. Hamis Kigwangalla. The strategy suggests sustainable measures to be used to mitigate the conflicts between human and wildlife in conflicts prone areas like Tunduru district in Ruvuma region.
TNRF project officer Margreth Mollel commended the government initiative to launch the Human-Wildlife conflict management strategy saying it will help much in the management of wildlife and people lives.
“We have visited several villages in Tunduru district such as Majimaji, Misyaje and Hulia villages, they are all complaining about the elephant invasion. With this strategy in place, TNRF commends this government efforts,” she said.
Earlier on, Tunduru district commissioner Julius Mtatiro had appealed to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism to find permanent solution with immediate effect to the large populations of Elephants currently invading the villagers and destroying their crops in their field.
He said the district is currently under siege and every day there are at least four cases of elephants entering different village in search for food.