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Tanzania: Mkomazi National Park

Location
TANZANIA, UNITED REPUBLIC OF

Summary

Location: Mkomazi National Park
Programme leaders: Tony and Lucy Fitzjohn
Programme partner: George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust
Rhino species: Black rhino (Diceros bicornis michaeli)
Size of protected area: 3,270 km2
Activities: Anti-poaching, monitoring, Environmental Education programme – Rafiki wa Faru
Support: We focus on the new Environmental Education programme, Rafiki wa Faru, that links local schoolchildren with Tony Fitzjohn’s conservation efforts and on general Rhino Sanctuary maintenance
Funding partners: Chester Zoo, Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, USFWS

Introduction

Due to inadequate funding and levels of protection in the 1970s and 80s, Mkomazi’s wildlife and habitat deteriorated significantly through invasion by livestock and heavy poaching. This included the loss of all resident black rhino and virtually all the elephant. In 1989, the Government of Tanzania invited the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust (GAWPT) to work with them to undertake a rehabilitation programme for Mkomazi, including restoration of habitat and re-introduction and breeding programmes for the highly endangered wild dog and black rhinoceros. The recovery of the Mkomazi Game Reserve was enabled by the Tanzanian Wildlife Division and the GAWPT through extensive rehabilitation of the infrastructure of the Reserve, with work activities bolstered by local community involvement and projects linked to wildlife protection and maintaining the integrity of the MNP. The Government gazetted Mkomazi, formerly a Game Reserve, to National Park status in 2008.

Programme managers

Tony and Lucy Fitzjohn

Location

The 3,270km2 Mkomazi National Park (MNP) forms the southern extension of the Tsavo Ecosystem into north-eastern Tanzania, and together with Tsavo National Park in Kenya it forms one of the largest protected areas in Africa.

Species / population size

Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary holds Eastern black rhino (D. b. michaeli). Please note that individual population sizes are confidential.

Habitat

The habitat of MNP and the Tsavo ecosystem in general has a very high carrying capacity (in terms of density) for black rhinos, far exceeding those of southern Africa. With a rich diversity of favoured food plants and vegetation cover based on rich volcanic soils with a bimodal rainfall pattern, the rhino densities recorded by Goddard in Tsavo (including MNP) in the 1960s indicate densities typically one order of magnitude higher that those that could be carried by most rhino conservation areas in southern Africa. Consequently, the cost-effectiveness of rhino conservation in terms of production of rhinos per unit area would also be equivalently high, an important consideration given the expense of construction and maintenance of fencing.

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