Wildlife migration
Wildlife migration

Tanzanian authorities said Friday they have halted field work for a new aerial wildlife census in the Selous-Mikumi ecosystem due to unusual field conditions.

“Unusually dense canopy cover is reducing visibility,” said a statement by the German Embassy in the East African nation’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam.

The census has been implemented as part of the “Selous Ecosystem Conservation and Development Program,” funded by the German government through KfW Development Bank.

The census started on September 20 to target large mammals in the Selous Game Reserve, the Mikumi National Park, the Selous-Niassa corridor, wildlife management areas and open areas.

After surveying a quarter of the more than 110,000 square kilometers’ area, the team decided to stop the field work, said the statement.

“Widespread early greening of the canopy would lead to inconsistent results. The census will be repeated next year in the dry season,” said the statement.

“The Miombo woodland (the dominant vegetation in the Selous Game Reserve) is experiencing an extended and early flush this year due to the unusually long rains,” said Edward Kohi, senior scientist leading the survey team from the Tanzanian Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI).

Kohi said surveys have been conducted regularly since 1976 in the dry season, when the canopy was relatively open.

“But this year the situation has changed significantly so that due to the poor visibility we would have difficulties providing reliable estimates and comparing our results to previous surveys,” said Kohi.

One key objective for this year’s aerial survey was to provide accurate data on the population of elephants and other wildlife species, including population estimates.

The Selous Game Reserve is one of Africa’s largest protected areas, with photographic tourism and hunting permitted in designated parts of the reserve. It covers about 50,000 square kilometers, an area larger than Switzerland. It was inscribed in 1982 on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

In recent years, the Selous has faced serious declines in its elephant and rhino populations. As a result, it was listed as a World Heritage Site “in danger” in 2014. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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