TANZANIA (eTN) – The German government has donated a special aircraft to Tanzania to reinforce anti-poaching efforts in the Selous Game Reserve, located in southern part of the country.
Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr. Gerd Müller, handed over a symbolic key of the Husky aircraft worth $249,146 to the Tanzanian Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Prof. Jumanne Maghembe.
The aircraft will be deployed by the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) in close cooperation with the Tanzanian Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA) for surveillance of wildlife in the Selous Game Reserve and to support the fight against poaching of wildlife.
The German Minister said during the handing-over ceremony, “Poaching threatens biodiversity in many of Africa’s remaining wilderness areas and undermines security of nations and the livelihoods of people.”
Dr. Müller added, “Handing this aircraft over to the Tanzanian authorities and FZS is an important cornerstone of our longstanding support for the Selous Game Reserve and the adjacent communities.”
The handing-over ceremony was held inside the Selous Game Reserve. The German Ambassador to Tanzania, Mr. Egon Kochanke, underlined, “The Selous Game Reserve is not only one of the largest protected areas in Africa but also the centerpiece of the new Tanzania Wildlife Authority.”
The area has been hit very hard by poachers. Between 2009 and 2014, the population of approximately 45,000 elephants at that time has been decimated to approximately 15,000 or less. Tanzania is estimated to have about 45,000 elephants, 60 percent less than in 2009, wildlife experts have estimated.
“Poaching is a severe threat to biodiversity,” said Christof Schenck, the Frankfurt Zoological Society Chief Executive Officer. “Not only because it can lead to local extinctions of targeted species like elephant and rhino, but because their disappearance can harm the ecosystem altogether. Frankfurt Zoological Society is committed to contribute to halting the deterioration of the Selous,” Schenck said.
In 1982, the Selous was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it is currently regarded as a World Heritage site in danger by UNESCO standards. Extraction of mineral resources and large-scale land use change are prohibited. “Now is the time to enhance protection of the area to enable wildlife populations to regrow and to restore the secured status of the World Heritage site,” said Schenck.
The Husky aircraft is well suited for monitoring and anti-poaching surveys as it operates at low heights and slow speeds. The other aircraft was deployed in the Serengeti National Park in northern Tanzania.
Since 2012, Germany has committed 100 million euro to support biodiversity protection and rural development in Tanzania, including euro earmarked for conservation of the Selous Game Reserve.
The Selous is one of Africa’s largest protected areas, with photographic tourism and hunting permitted in designated parts of the area, covering an area of 50,000 kilometers, which is larger in size than Switzerland.
The Selous Game Reserve is a woodland area with a high density and diversity of both plant and animal species. It is home to large populations of wild dog, lion, hippo, and buffalo.
There are, as well, important populations of ungulates including sable antelope, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, greater kudu, eland, and Niassa wildebeest. In addition, there is a large number of Nile crocodile and over 430 species of birds.