Natural Resources and Tourism minister Dr Damas Ndumbaro declared as much during a familiarisation tour of the park.
While there, he learned that rhinos used to roam the tourist attraction many years ago but, much like in many other parts of the country, the ferocious mammals disappeared for various reasons – including the infamous horn-hunting poaching.
“Arusha National Park is the most accessible tourist destination in the country, being very close to both Arusha City and Kilimanjaro International Airport,” said the minister, adding that the park should be the easiest attraction to international market but also needs more and exciting saleable products.
The park’s Deputy Conservation Commissioner in-charge, Albert Mziray, told Dr Ndumbaro that they were planning to re-introduce rhinos, with the minister advising that they could make use of the rhinos being bred at the Mkomazi National Park sanctuary.
“If you take six rhinos from Mkomazi and replant them here, eventually they will reproduce and soon the animals will roam the park en-masse again,” said the minister.
“Black rhino are natives of this location, for they once roamed the slopes of Mount Meru,” explained Mziray.
William Mwakilema, Tanzania National Park’s (Tanapa) Deputy Conservation Commissioner for Conservation and Business Development, meanwhile said they intend to boost the park’s visitors from the current 64,000 tourists to 250,000 visitors and eventually to hit the half-a-million mark in five years’ time.
Arusha National Park has almost every feature that can be found in various other destinations such as a mountain, a lake, a crater, savannah plains, dense forests, rivers, historical sites and rich variety of wildlife, but the destination still needs more attractions to graduate into an all-in-one park.
The relatively small park was established in 1960, making it the oldest after Serengeti and Ngorongoro, and is home to common animal species like giraffes, Cape buffaloes, zebras, Warthog, the black-and-white Colobus monkey, the Blue monkeys, elephants, bushbucks and giant pythons, one of which the minister came across during his trekking.
Leopards are also to be found in the park although they are quite shy and are thus rarely seen.
The park also boasts a variety of birds’ species, including the Narina trogon, the bar-tailed trogon and flamingoes. There are also aquatic animals like fishes and hippos residing in the Lake, which offers opportunity for canoeing safaris, a staple in the park.