SANParks Visits Tanzanian Parks
by Dr Holger Eckhardt
On the 25th of November 2006, a delegation from South African National Parks (SANParks) consisting of 11 people and one representative from the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), embarked on a fact-finding mission to Tanzania and, more specifically, Tanzanian National Parks (TANAPA). The group was made up of people from the Savannah Ecological Research Unit within the broader SANParks Conservation Services, representing not only the Kruger National Park (KNP) but also some of the other savannah parks.
On the 26th, the group visited TANAPA Head Quarters in Arusha and was addressed by Mr Lejora, the Manager for Ecological Monitoring. Mr Lejora was also the contact person and made all arrangements so that the group could visit the various parks. On the same day, the first park to be visited was Tarangire where locally-based scientists shared interesting information with the group. The typical problem of isolation and human settlement encroachment that faces most conservation areas, not only on the African continent but all-over the world, was highlighted by an incident that occurred a week prior to this visit when six lions were killed by Maasai people after they lost livestock. This is a problem which many SANParks people are familiar with.
On the 28th, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a World heritage Site, was visited, the highlight being the Ngorongoro Crater. This area is not managed by TANAPA but by NCAA (Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority) which is a parastatal organisation with a different status. After a relatively short presentation, the descending road into the crater was used to reach the floor which consists of a large expanse of water, grassland and smaller patches of woodland and marsh. In general, most of the animals found in the crater never leave this area.
The lecture presented to us at Seronera Wildlife Lodge gave us a good insight into the monitoring work conducted there. The final day, 2nd of December, saw the SANParks group visiting the scenic Arusha National Park which includes Mount Meru and its foot slopes. From a vegetation and topography point of view, this park appears to be very diverse, consisting of tall tree forest, savannah patches, grassland, several smaller lakes and its own crater, Ngurdoto. The 3rd of December was departure day, leaving from Kilimanjaro International Airport outside Arusha via Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam back to OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. As the aircraft took off, the group saw Mount Kilimanjaro with its white snow cap. What a beautiful sight and what better good-bye than this beautiful natural spectacle.
One of the expected outcomes from this visit is that closer links between TANAPA and SANParks should be forged. This will hopefully serve as a basis for further collaboration in the future and might benefit both organisations in their endeavour to successfully manage the network of national parks of which they are the custodians.
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