Elephants safe after Ruaha anti-poaching drive

16Mar 2019
The Guardian Reporter
IRINGA
The Guardian
Elephants safe after Ruaha anti-poaching drive

SUSTAINED efforts to fight poaching have resulted in the fall of the number of killed elephants within the Ruaha National Park from 52 in 2012 to just three last year.

Head of security at the park, Agricola Lihiru told this paper in an interview yesterday that after the three poaching incidents recorded last year, none had been reported since 2019 began.

Lihiru attributed the sharp fall in poaching incidences within the protected area to efforts put in place including increased number of game warders and stern legal action against poachers.

 “We embarked on a sensitization campaign for communities surrounding the park and that made them more aware of the need to protect the animals and report suspicious activities to authorities,” he said.

The conservator noted that for the period 2017-2018, warders within the park intercepted 360 poaching attempts whereby suspects were arrested and taken to court, leading to a number of successful prosecutions.

The heightened security and the jailing of a number of poachers that sent a warning to their colleagues plus the role played by conservation-aware communities have collectively made Ruaha jumbos some of the safest in the country, Lihiru asserted.

However, the park warders are not about to relent any sooner because the threat has not ended. After all, there are other prohibited human activities taking place in the Ruaha ecosystem that must be fought day and night, he pointed out.

“Illegal fishing is taking place within the protected area of Ruaha River and we have to work hard to stop that too,” he emphasized.

Park tourism officer, Tutindaga Mdoe said the park is home to 15,000 elephants and a number of other attractions and features that make it stand out among parks in the world.

“Ruaha National Park is home to 10 per cent of lions in the world. It is a park of its kind,” Mdoe said.

Ruaha National Park is the largest national park in the country. The addition of the Usangu Game Reserve and other important wetlands to the park in 2008 increased its size to about 20,226 square kilometres, making it the largest park in Tanzania and East Africa. The park area starts from about 130 kilometres west of Iringa town.

The park is rich of plants and animals such as Greater Kudu which cannot be found in any other national park. It also boasts almost an untouched and unexplored ecosystem.