Tanzania: Choppers Now Patrol Serengeti Skies

by Jan 15, 2011Conservation Threats, Rhino Poaching, Rhinos, Serengeti

Following the killing and de-horning of the newly imported Rhinocerous in Serengeti, authorities have deployed aircrafts to patrol the vast park.

Speaking in Serengeti recently the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Ezekiel Maige explained that aerial patrolling was among the various effort by the government to reinforce security in Serengeti.

“We have always maintained tight security around all National Parks but following the recent killing of the rare rhino in Serengeti, it has come to our attention that poachers keep adopting new strategies and skills so we have doubled our pace to remain steps ahead of them,” said the Minister.

Mr Maige revealed that already aerial patrolling forces using helicopters and aircrafts to comb the Tanzania’s second largest National Park on daily basis and these efforts are being supplemented by support and contributions from the private investors with stakes in the park.

“There are other even more effective strategies but we are keeping those secret at the moment because we do not want the illegal hunters to be aware of them and create defensive mechanism,” Mr Maige pointed out.

With an astounding dimension which is six-times the size of Zanzibar Island, patrolling Serengeti, according to the park conservator, Mr Mtango Mtahiko, has always proved to be a major challenge but the introduction of flying rangers the management believes the work will be easier and more effective.

Serengeti Park, the first to be established in the country (1951) covers 14,763 square kilometers. It is the second largest after Ruaha National Park and consists of grassland plains and savanna as well as forests, rocky hills and woodlands.

The park is home to the big five and boasts over 3000 lions, 1000 African Leopards, over 500 species of birds and around 300,000 wildebeests. Other hoofed animals include Zebra, Gazelle, Impala, Hartebeest, Topi, Buffalo and Waterbuck- also occur in huge numbers during the wet season.

Dotted with Kopjes, the granite rocks which are very common in the region, tourists and game rangers have been using these as great observation posts for poachers but animals also use Kopjes to look out for predators, the rocks are also refuges for hyrax and pythons.

The park borders Kenya to the North, where it is adjoins the Masai Mara National Reserve and Ngorongoro Conservation Area to the south and in the south-west it borders the Maswa Game Reserve, and to the western borders are Ikorongo and Grumeti Game Reserves, finally to the north-east lays the Loliondo Game Control Area.

A few weeks ago, poachers killed and de-horned one of the five black rhinos that Tanzania had imported from South Africa in mid 2010, according to the tourism minister however already ten people have been arrested in connection with the crime and are soon to be charged in court.