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Elephants in the Groom? Barbaig Males Using Jumbo Tails to Woo brides

Elephant in the groom? How Barbaig males use Jumbo tails to woo new brides in Northern Tanzania


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The Old Barbaig Traditional New Year Festives involving young people hunting down elephants and cutting off the jumbo tails to attract wives, has been halted this time.

But of course, it had already caused great loss to wildlife in the past, before authorities moved in.

According to the Tarangire National Park’s Conservation Officer, William Maregesi, previously the youth from Barbaig Communities used to kill elephants as part of their seasonal new year celebrations being carried out between the months of November and January.

The festives that run in-sycn with the International New Year period, involves the Barbaig youth initiation ceremonies and these entails cultural dances featuring elephant tails.

The jumbo tails are converted into fly-whisks, a symbol of male bravity (or something). The more elephant-tailed fly whisks one has the better chance for the young man to acquire more beautiful brides.

Barbaig ladies: It takes an elephant to woo them

For many years in the past the practices have been causing illegal hunting of elephants within the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem, as far as Maregesi is concerned.

However the park management in association with traditional leaders, have hatched plans to involve the youths in conservation programs, including doing patrols, working in a number tourism ventures or securing them jobs in local tourist properties.

Tarangire National Parks, with over 4002 elephants, has the highest Jumbo concentration per area, than any other reserve in the coountry, plus the species of Tarangire happen to be the largest in terms of sheer size.

Tarangire Park has the largest and highest concentration of Jumbos in Tanzania

Presenting a paper on ‘Sustainable Conservation for Development,’ to members of the press covering conservation issues within the ‘Kwa-Kuchinja’ wildlife corridor, the Tanzania National Park officer revealed that the park management was forced to reinforce outreach operations.

“Between 2016 and 2021 we have recorded 147,758 patrol days. Within this period a total of 582 suspected poachers were arrested; 280 people that tresspassed into the park for grazing were also caught, with 36,651 livestock impounded and several types of illegal firearms confiscated. We have over 95 court cases ongoing. Illegal fishing in rivers crossing into Tarangire is also a problem!”

William Maregesi – Conservation Officer (Tarangire National Park)

While illegal elephant hunting has been controlled, the patroling teams have on the other hand managed to uncover 22 tusks, possibly from past rackets, 3 lion skins, several Zebra hooves and 12 hyena hides.

Tarangire has earned over 344 million/- from penalties fined from tresspassers and other petty crimes committed in the National Park.

Tarangire is the second most visited Park in the country after Serengeti, attracting over 160,000 visitors per annum, on average.

A little jumbo enters a hollow Baobab Tree in Tarangire. Traditional festives have been threatening the elephants in Northern Tanzania

At the threshold of initiating behaviour change among the communities living around the Kwakuchinja Wildlife Corridor, TRAFFIC, a leading non-governmental organization working globally on trade in wild animals and plants recently held a three-day workshop and field trip for Tanzanian journalists to boost understanding of illegal wildlife trade in changing community behaviour concerning illegal wildlife consumption within the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem.

The initiative was implemented through the Environment Journalists Association (JET) and funded by USAID.

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