The fight for Selous elephants By Attilio TagalileEvery year, on September 22, Tanzania, through the Wildlife Division of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism marks, nationally, the National Elephant Day.
The government set aside this day so that Tanzanians could use it in reflecting on how this increasingly threatened iconic animal could be saved against poachers.
The choice of Tunduru township in Tunduru district, Ruvuma region in southern Tanzania for playing host to the National Elephant Day was made this year on two grounds:
One, for its proximity to the 50,000 square kilometer Selous Game Reserve and two, for leading, in terms of blockades of elephant corridors from the Selous to the Niassa National Reserve in Mozambique and vice versa.
Blockades of elephant corridors have for years given rise to increased wildlife and human conflict that has sometimes led to a clash between the people and game rangers.
By bringing the National Elephant Day to Tunduru township it was hoped that it would help in bringing about awareness to the people in the area over the importance of protecting elephants not only for tourism but also for conservation purposes.
That through the National Elephant Day programme, people in this area would see the importance of refraining, in future, from encroaching on elephant corridors, hence reduce wildlife and human conflict.
As far as threats against elephants are concerned, the Selous Game Reserve has gone down as the most affected through poaching activities.
In the words of a Tanzanian artist who built the white life size elephant, christened Peke: the last elephant, “unless something urgent is done to stop the killing of elephants, we would sooner than later be left with elephant models in the form of Peke.”
Ndunguru made the foregoing statement at the Baraza la Idd Grounds in Tunduru after the end of the Peke led two kilometer demonstrations in the township.
Nduguru’s warning over Tanzanians’ failure to deal with poaching was put into context by the Conservation Manager of the WWF, Tanzania Office,, Dr Simon Lugandu who said in 1976 the Selous Game Reserve had 110,000 elephants, giving it the fame of holding the highest concentration of elephants in Africa.
However, by 2014 Dr Luganda said elephants in the Selous had been decimated to 15,217 through poaching activities.
WWF-Tanzania is working in the Selous Game Reserve with the government and other partners, like the Frankfurt Zoological Society to defeat poaching and reestablish the elephants and wildlife once again.
You can play your part by taking action to support our campaign. https://makeyourmark.panda.org/selous