New Wildlife Census Casts Up in the Tarangire-Manyara Ecosystem

Zebras mingle with boons in the Burunge Wildlife Management Area, near Tarangire (Photo by Marc Nkwame)
Zebras mingle with boons in the Burunge Wildlife Management Area, near Tarangire (Photo by Marc Nkwame)

A new census aimed at counting and determining the number of wildlife and livestock plus their ratio is taking off within the Burunge Wildlife Management Area.

The exercise is a follow-up to the previous census projects that have been carried out in Burunge.

From recent counts in Burunge, it has been observed that the number of wildlife species was on increase in sync with domestically kept animals.

This new Census of 2023 is being conducted by the Babati District Council in conjunction with Burunge Wildlife Management Area and the Chem-Chem Association.

“We want to know for sure the current population and statuses of wildlife species and domestic animals,” explained the Babati District Wildlife Officer, Goodluck James.

According to Officer James, Burunge WMA is an important precinct as far as conservation is concerned.

This is because the area encompasses the Kwakuchinja wildlife corridor which directly links Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks and also an important grazing and watering area for both wild and domestic animals.

Two lakes, Burunge and Manyara that are important for aquatic life such as hippos, birds and fish are also found within the area.

Dr Bernard Kissui, the renowned scientist in the field of wildlife research and conservation of Lions, leads the 2023 wildlife census in Burunge.

“The exercise will take ten days and is being conducted directly and manually, where the census personnel trek on foot to trace count the individual targeted species,” Kissui explained.

The Tarangire Manyara Ecosystem is home to around 180 lions, the number having been dropped from more than 200 such cats that roamed the area in 2003.

Results of the latest Census for Burunge Wildlife Management Area will be compiled in the report which may come up in the first or second week of June 2023.

Hamisi Nassib from Chem-Chem explains that the Association will fund the exercise as well as providing personnel to join the joint patrol squad which is undertaking the task.

Count us in: The Census team readies for action in Burunge (Photo by Omega Mlay)

A study report on Burunge WMA conducted by the Penn State University indicates that the precinct has contributed to higher densities of wildlife and higher giraffe population growth when compared to unprotected areas.

The research reveals that at least sixteen species of large wildlife are present in Burunge, including wildebeest, elephant, banded mongoose, warthog, and impala.

It added that the animals use Lake Burunge and Lake Manyara as watering holes before continuing their migration or, as is the case with Burunge’s large resident population of Cape buffalo, staying to graze upon the surrounding low-lying grasslands.

The Burunge is located in the Babati district of Manyara region and occupies an area of approximately 617 square kilometres of which 280 square kilometres are preserved for conservation purposes.