Elephants in the Eastern Africa Region will soon be able to migrate back-and-forth between Kenya and Mozambique through Tanzania, thanks to ongoing efforts aimed at restoring all important wildlife corridors.
Already Tanzania is in the process of unblocking the country’s 20 most important wildlife corridors.
The country has more than 60 wildlife corridors connecting its National Parks, Game Reserves and forested landscapes between the Northern and Southern borderlines.
Conservation authorities in association with local communities are currently updating and rebuilding the vital corridor connecting Udzungwa Mountains and Nyerere National Park in the southern circuit.
The Udzungwa-Selous wildlife passage is crucial connectivity channel for large mammals’ movements, especially the southern elephants’ herds.
According to Joseph Mwalugelo the Wildlife Corridor Restoration Manager for the Southern Tanzania Elephant Program (STEP), the Udzungwa-Selous-Nyerere landscape happen to be home to the biggest Meta Population of Jumbos.
Results from the recent census conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) indicate that over 20,000 elephants are roaming in the Southern Circuit of Tanzania alone.
“As we link Nyerere and Udzungwa parks, the aim is to later connect the ecosystem which also includes the Niasa Special Reserve of Mozambique, to the Western Meta Population mapped within Rungwa-Ruaha-Katavi Landscape,” Mwalugelo maintained.
The STEP official revealed that the program will afterwards continue to find ways of linking both the Southern and Western Meta Population of Jumbos to the Northern Serengeti-Ngorongoro-Maswa ecosystem, which also links to the Maasai Mara National Reserve of Kenya.
Mwalugelo was speaking to members of the Journalist Environment Association of Tanzania (JET) who visited the newly revived corridor in the Kilombero District of Morogoro.
He later on took members of the National Corridors Restoration Committee to the newly established Kilombero Elephant Passage route.
The expert added that, the aim is to crate linkage between the North and South wildlife precincts for free movement of animals, especially jumbos.
Which means in the near future, elephant migrations will be cutting across the three Eastern African Countries of Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique.
The migration is expected to create a new phenomenon in both tourism and conservation sectors.
But for starters, the newly cleared Kilombero Elephant Corridor which measures around 12 kilometers long and up to 200 meters wide now officially links Udzungwa Mountains and Nyerere National Park downstream.
The corridor also included an underpass tunnel which allows elephants and other wildlife species to cross the rather busy Ifakara to Dar-es-salaam Road.
The first in the country, the corridor will be protected by electric fencing on either side.
The Kilombero Elephant Corridor also features automatic surveillance cameras to track and record the jumbos’ movements.
“Together with STEP and other stakeholders in wildlife conservation, we are striving to identify, restore and maintain wildlife corridors because these natural passageways are vital in addressing human-wildlife conflicts,” stated Joseph Olila, the Natural Resource Management Policy Manager USAID Tuhifadhi Maliasili
Human-Wildlife Conflicts have been notorious in the Kilombero basin whose residents are mostly farmers growing rice, sugarcane and variety of vegetables not to mention maize.
Elephants, especially have always been reported to venture into farms and destroying crops therein.
The fenced corridor will ensure that elephants don’t move into nearby villages’ farms and destroy crops.
Located within the Kilombero Basin the Elephant Corridor lies between Mwanihana forest in Udzungwa Mountains National Park and Magombera Forest Nature Reserve below it, along the route which elephants normally use as they trek across the valley.
The maiden assessment of Wildlife Corridors in Tanzania was conducted in 2009, in the mission led by the Southern Tanzania Elephant Program’s Chief Executive Dr Trevor Jones.
The follow-up assessment was implemented by USAID through the Promoting Tanzania’s Environment, Conservation, and Tourism Project (PROTECT) in association with the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute.