(eTN) – Recent reports in sections of the East African media, alleging deliberate attempts by TANAPA and SENAPA to keep the annual migration of wildebeest into the Masai Mara, have not only been denied strenuously by Tanzanian officials but by the look of it, lack all merit or credibility.
According to reports from the Masai Mara, and in fact from individuals on site throughout the year, the migration has reached the Mara River and several major crossings have already been recorded as the wildebeest amassed at the river, preparing for more crossings.
A regular source, on condition of anonymity, from within the Tanzanian wildlife management body, in fact wrote to this correspondent with the request to publish the truth: “Those who wrote that were full of mischief, did not know the facts at all and tried to make political capital out of it. We are professionals, we know the impact it would have on the herds if they cannot get to pasture in Masai Mara. They would starve, we would lose a lot of animals.
“How can anyone in their right mind suggest we would risk this or be part of it. This is stuff for movies on conspiracies. We have no conspiracies here at all. Even in the Masai Mara they are burning blocks which they do every few years to regenerate vegetation. At one point, the wildebeest were on our side of the river and could not cross because there was a scheduled burning of a certain area in the Mara triangle. Let us all calm down and let those so called journalists be exposed for what they are. They are liars and quacks and have a hidden agenda to stir trouble and sow discord.”
True enough, in fact, word came down from the Mara Triangle Facebook page that there was indeed a delayed burning of a certain block last fired in 2007, and that due to rains, the burning had to be delayed and a significant number of wildebeest were at the time across the river waiting to cross.
“We apologize for the smoke caused by our controlled fire yesterday, which unfortunately coincided with the first wildebeest massing along the river. The fire was supposed to take place last week, but it was postponed till the rain subsided and grass dried up.
“Each Year MT practice[s] controlled fire for rangeland management, and it is usually done before high season (this year it was hugely delayed due to continuous non-stop rain in the triangle). The fire is set within firebreaks (the main roads) and each block is given several years rest. The timing of the fire is determined by expected rain from satellite weather forecast.
“Yesterday’s block from BBC lugga, Nyumba Nane to Maji ma chafu was last burnt in 2007. We use control burning to clear out old grass which is not eaten by most species and to encourage new growth for species such as Thomson’s gazelle and wildebeests. There is a FB note we [wrote] on pros and cons of fire last year for those who are interested in the details. I hope this answers the questions posted by people and once again we apologize for the smoke and the timing of the fire.” ( https://www.facebook.com/maratriangle )
So, no mischief, no conspiracy, and for sure no intent to keep the annual migration of the wildebeest out of the Kenyan Masai Mara, but a lot of hogwash, invented by gutter journalists of the worst kind whose paymasters and ear whisperers should be equally exposed to get to the bottom of this totally unjustified anti-Tanzania campaign.