The government of Germany has pledged to pump in some one million euro to help intensify efforts to fight unbridled elephant poaching in Selous Game Reserve, a statement issued on Tuesday by the Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources said.
The reserve, which covers over 50,000 square kilometres and is one of the largest protected areas in Africa, was recently placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger because of widespread wildlife poaching. Germany has also called on the international community to put anti-poaching in Selous Game Reserve in the centre stage.
The World Heritage Committee which met in Doha, Qatar, last week also called on the international community, including ivory transit and destination countries, to support Tanzania in the fight against the criminal activity.
Selous Game Reserve is renowned for its populations of elephant, black rhinoceros, cheetah, giraffe, hippopotamus and crocodile, amongst many other species. It also has an exceptionally high variety of habitats including Miombo woodlands, open grasslands, riverine forests and swamps, making it a valuable laboratory for ongoing ecological and biological processes.
However, rampant poaching has caused a dramatic decline in the wildlife populations, especially elephants and rhinos, whose numbers have dropped by almost 90 per cent since 1982 when the reserve was inscribed on the World Heritage List.
The statement further said that the population of elephants in the Selous Game Reserve had dwindled drastically, from 70,000 in the year 2006 to 13,084 last year.
“The decreasing number of elephants in the reserve forced the government to take deliberate efforts to tackle the vice of poaching by boosting manpower and material support to fight poachers,” the statement said.
Selous Game Reserve is among seven Unesco World Heritage cites in Tanzania. Others are Kondoa Rock Art Sites, Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara, Stone Town of Zanzibar as well as Kilimanjaro National Park and Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area.