TANAPA and Mkomazi National Park

When TANAPA took over the management of Mkomazi National Park, there was a notion that our workload would be reduced. Nothing could have been more off-track. From years of having to make it up as we went along, of ducking and diving and being subject to pressures that we couldn’t even see coming, we now have a partnership with TANAPA that has seen the growth of a national park which we could only ever have imagined. Projects that once seemed like a pipe-dream and are now taking shape.

We have carried out joint patrols using the aircraft, vehicles and personnel and we work together on road development and maintenance. The aircraft, with its new engine, is flown three or four times daily on patrol with relay of information to the TANAPA HQ and rhino sanctuary personnel. Numbers of lion, cheetah, oryx, zebra, gerenuk, buffalo, eland, kongoni, giraffe and many other species are increasing.

The major drawback to the ongoing development of Mkomazi National Park has always been water – or lack of it. The Tsavo / Mkomazi ecosystem is one of the largest protected ecosystems in Africa and historically supported a vast range of wildlife and was an important winter sanctuary for the elephant. The current poaching crisis has reduced the elephant numbers dramatically and the number coming into Mkomazi for the wet season browse has decreased alarmingly. There is available water in the remote border areas of Tsavo West National Park and we feel that under Mkomazi’s excellent TANAPA management structure, the elephant herds will be well protected if they have the option of alternative water sources in Mkomazi. TANAPA have constructed a water pan close to their HQ in an area called Norbanda and this is now being used in the rainy season by wildlife, most significantly small elephant herds. Another proposed water source in the centre of the park has been surveyed by TANAPA engineers who looked at the area on foot and by plane and then demarcated it.

Flying to flush out the lion in the rhino sanctuary.

We have been offered a second-hand bulldozer from a colleague (Kim Axmann) who is considering establishing a small tented tourist camp in Mkomazi close to Dindira Dam. He is a farmer in Tanzania and the offer is to bring the bulldozer to Mkomazi where it will be shared between us, but under the control of the GAWPT workshop. The funds for the bulldozer and a ten-ton tipping trailer have been very kindly donated by our long-standing and loyal supporters, Tusk Trust and Chester Zoo. These are both excellent pieces of machinery to use for the infrastructural development of the rhino sanctuary, the national park and these new water sources needed for elephant and other wildlife.

TANAPA also lent us a bulldozer from another park to construct a small water pan at our base-camp and they have sent in their mechanic to help solve some of our mechanical issues.

We received visits from senior TANAPA management including Martin Loiboiki, the Director of Conservation; Chief Mafuru who handles all rhino matters; Mr Lejora, the Chief Ecologist; the Director of Tourism; and the TANAPA vets, Dr Idrissa Chuma and Dr Emmanuel Macha.

The Prime Minister of Tanzania, Hon. Mizengo Kayanza Peter Pinda sent a letter of appreciation to the trust for all the work that has been undertaken in Mkomazi and in it he commented on our good relationship with TANAPA.

Mkomazi National Park is a huge investment for TANAPA and it backs up the investment of the trust. The weekly meetings with the Chief Park Warden, Donat Mnyagatwa, and Warden Emmanuel Sisya, are always productive, amicable and jolly occasions. Meetings in Arusha with the TANAPA Director General, Allan Kijazi, are really encouraging and the fast turn around in communications ensures that issues get resolved and decisions get made almost immediately. Our new Memorandum of Understanding has now been signed with TANAPA, a process summed up in the words of our Chief Park Warden – We Are Together!