Six giraffes dead, touch lowly wires in Manyara

15Dec 2021
Marc Nkwame
The Guardian
Six giraffes dead, touch lowly wires in Manyara

​​​​​​​AT least six giraffes have been fatally electrocuted by faulty power transmission lines at the Kwakuchinja Wildlife Corridor connecting the Tarangire and Lake Manyara national parks, in Babati Rural District, Manyara Region.

District Game Officer (DGO) Christopher Laizer told this paper yesterday that the power lines crisscrossing the precincts are supported by decaying wooden poles bending downwards and inviting danger.

The tall mammals get their necks entangled in the live electric wires hanging from bent poles and end up being electrocuted.

The giraffe is the national symbol of Tanzania and the tallest land animal in the world. Its height can reach almost six meters, he said, noting that smaller animals are also killed when stepping on wires that have fallen on the ground.

“It is the new concern in the wildlife corridor; animals getting electrocuted,” he said, remarking that the park authorities “have been reporting the matter to the relevant authorities for intervention,’ leaving an impression that the problem still persists.

“We even advised them that the wooden poles should be replaced with the more stable and durable concrete pillars or steel bars,” he declared.

This situation was unveiled during a study visit by journalists in the area, via a sensitization workshop for changing community behavior in Kwakuchinja wildlife corridor, organized by TRAFFIC and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

TRAFFIC is a non-governmental organization working globally on trade in wild animals and plants in the context of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development, and early next year the NGO shall start rolling out behavior change initiatives at the Kwakuchinja corridor.

More wild animals are venturing into the surrounding communities, even going into schools and entering classrooms. Giraffes are now seen in residential areas in the corridor precincts and as far as Babati and Magugu towns, residents said.

Anna Mbogo, the District Executive Director, had earlier asserted that conservation efforts are paying off, with a noticeable increase in game numbers but they were getting too close to villagers and this may affect their behavior.

“We want them to remain wild animals and I have been warning people not to feed them with household meals or grown crops,” she stated.

Problems related to wildlife are more sharply defined in the Kwakuchinja wildlife corridor which connects Tarangire National Park, Manyara Ranch, Mswakini Chini, Burunge Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and Lake Manyara National Park.

The corridor used to cover 81 square kilometers, but now the wildlife passage has shrunk into a measly 5.2 square kilometers due to new settlements over the past three decades, dotted with farms.

Benson Mwaise, the secretary for Burunge Wildlife Management Area (WMA) operating in the locality, said that elephants, lions, hyenas, buffalos, zebras, hippos all cause problems in the area.

The ten villages pooling land resources to create the Burunge WMA benefit from tourism and realise the benefits of conservation, despite that a few poaching incidences occur, he stated.

Road kill mainly by trucks frequently occurs as the road stretches over 50 kilometers, cutting through the Tarangire-Manyara eco-system, downing an average of 380 animals in the course of last year, on the basis of press reports.

Dr Bernard Kissui, a researcher with the Tarangire Lion Project had commented that a team which studied the scenario from the Makuyuni Bridge all the way to Kibao Cha Tembo in Babati Rural District for the entire 12 months found out that most accident occurred after sunset. But a visit to the location in the past few months shows that road kill has been reduced, he added.

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