(November 30, 2006, Arusha, Tanzania) Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park in the Southern Circuit will be combined with Usangu Game Reserve, increasing its size by over 15,000 square kilometers, making it the largest National Park in Africa. Tanzania, the largest country in East Africa, is reported to be the last frontier of the enchanting Africa of the past century, with twenty-five percent of the land set aside for protected areas. There are currently 14 National Parks, with one new one in the works, and 30 game reserves.
According to Gerald Bigurube, Director General, Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), “Tanzania is constantly working on upgrading its game reserves to National Parks. In a National Park there is no consumptive use of resources and this allows for the multiplicity of species, increasing the wildlife in the parks” One of the aims of the government in annexing Usangu to Ruaha is in part to save the biodiversity of that area as well as to increase tourism to the region. This can best be accomplished if the area is administered and marketed by TANAPA”.
Peter Mwenguo, Managing Director, Tanzania Tourist Board, added “Tanzania’s tourism strategy is to encourage high quality, low volume tourism. By increasing the number of national parks, we are able to create more diversity in the safari circuits and avoid mass tourism.”
Ruaha, which boasts 10,000 elephants, the largest population of any East African national park, protects a vast tract of the rugged semi-arid bush country that characterizes central Tanzania. Its lifeblood is the Great Ruaha River which courses along the Eastern boundary of the park. A fine network of game-viewing roads follows the Great Ruaha and its seasonal tributaries, where, during the dry season, impala, waterbuck and other antelopes risk their life for a sip of life sustaining water. The risk is considerable with prides of 20 plus lions lording over the savannah, the cheetahs that stalk the open grassland and the leopards that lurk in tangled riverside thickets. Ruaha is also home to over 450 bird species. The Usangu Game Reserve includes the Ihefu Wetland, the natural water reservoir for the Great Ruaha River.
Tanzania is also the home to Africa’s highest and permanently snow-capped Mt. Kilimanjaro; the Serengeti National Park, where the unparallel spectacular annual animal migration takes place and the Selous which is the world’s largest Game Reserve. The other National Parks, Lake Manyara, Tarangire, Arusha, Mahale, Gombe, Ruaha, Katavi, Rubondo, Mikumi and Saadani (former Queen’s Park), all play host to millions of magnificent wildlife in the wilderness.
Other attractions include the famous Ngorongoro Crater, one of Tanzania’s most incredible natural wonders, as well as Olduvai Gorge (cradle of mankind), the Marine Parks of Mafia Island and Mnazi Bay which provide exciting deep sea fishing and aqua sports and the exotic Spice Islands of Zanzibar.
For more information on Tanzania visit www.tanzaniatouristboard.com; on Tanzania National Parks visit www.tanzaniaparks.com.
For more on Tanzania at ITKT