By Mugini Jacob
Some livestock keepers in Tarime District, Mara Region, have continued to take their animals to graze inside the northern fringes of the Serengeti National Park (SENAPA), citing lack of grazing land in their villages.
The herders with thousands of animals come from such villages as Kegonga, Masanga, Gibasso and Mangucha. Grazing in the park has reportedly worsened relations between conservators and the villagers and no side seems to be benefiting from the crisis.
Over 500 animals were last week confiscated grazing in an area the villagers call Nyanungu Basin( Bonde la Nyanungu) inside the park. The animals included 378 cows, 91 goats, 73 sheep and 24 donkeys, according to Nyanungu Ward Executive Officer Mr Deusdatus Waikama.
"Some officials have started talks with SENAPA rangers over the fate of the animals," Mr Waikama said. Mr William Mwakilema, the SENAPA Chief Park Warden, confirmed the confiscation of the animals. Some children who were looking after the animals were also arrested.
Grazing in a national park is illegal according to the Tanzania conservation Act. "We're withholding the livestock and owners must follow legal procedures," the Chief Park Warden said. Reports from the village say every head of livestock was fined 20,000/-.
"We went to the SENAPA rangers' post where the livestock were being kept and were told that a fine for every animal is 20,000/- and it seems people have agreed to pay it, says Marwa Gisiri, a resident of Kegonga village. "We don't know when a solution will be found," he added.
The villagers claim that Nyanungu basin is their land and they have the right to graze their animals there. "Nyanungu basin is the centre of the crisis. Villagers are now seeing as their option for life but it is an important part of Serengeti National Park.
It is an ideal area for wildebeest migration. This is a big problem," a senior official with the Tarime District Council who declined to be named said. He said the villagers must be educated to fall in love with conservation instead of relying on large number of cows when they don't have grazing land.
Some villagers complain that Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), a body responsible for conservation and protection of 16 national parks has of late put a fresh borders that have absorbed Nyanungu basin to be part of the park. More....