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FZS Projects in Serengeti
by Dr Markus Borner, Regional Representative, Frankfurt Zoological Society

--> Support for Serengeti Park Management
--> Protection of the Serengeti Buffer Zone
--> Wildlife Management Areas
--> Rhino Conservation
--> Montoring of the Serengeti Ecosystem
--> Wildlife Veterinary Department
--> Support of Research

 
Support for Serengeti Park Management

The Frankfurt Zoological Society supports all aspects of Park Management in the Serengeti National Park. Some of these inputs are:

  1. Infrastructure
    Donation of vehicles, aircraft, generators, radios, solar equipment, ranger posts, administration buildings, petrol stations, and boundary demarcations. Maintenance of the above along with older ranger posts, roads and garages.
  2. Operations
    Donation of portable radios, ranger uniforms and equipment, and ranger salaries.
  3. Tourism
    Construction and maintenance of the Serengeti Visitor Centre, entrance gates, and information kiosks.
  4. Community Conservation
    Construction of the Youth Hostel and the purchasing of a lorry for transporting school children and local residents to Serengeti for educational experiences.
  5. Management Planning
    The Society supports rational planning of conservation activities through administrative training courses, ranger training courses, grassland fire plans, and environmental impact assessments.
  6. Endangered Species Preservation
    FZS supports the Serengeti Rhino Conservation Project to monitor and protect the Serengeti rhino population through vehicles, training, equipment as well as the construction of the Michael Grzimek memorial ranger post.
  7. Wildlife Monitoring
    The Tanzanian Wildlife Conservation Monitoring Programme coordinates and funds aerial censuses of wild animals throughout Tanzania, but focuses its work in the long term tradition of father and son Grzimek on the Serengeti Ecosystem.
  8. Maintenance
    To assure that the ranger force is well equipped for their patrol duties, FZS runs a Landrover garage in the Serengeti, maintaining all field force Landrovers and replacing the vehicles after a 3 to 4 years term in the field.

Protection and Management of the Serengeti Buffer Zones

The Serengeti National Park is only the core protection zone of the Serengeti Ecosystem. A string of buffer zones surrounds this core area. These are the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the Mara- Maswa- Grumeti- and Ikorongo Game Reserves and four different Wildlife Management Areas. FZS support is for the whole ecosystem and all the reserves surrounding the National Park receive long-term management support. Only by safeguarding the whole area can the Serengeti Park itself be efficiently protected.

FZS supports the buffer zones with
Assistance with planning
Monitoring and wildlife census
Boundary demarcation and maintenance
Establishment and maintenance of infrastructure like ranger posts and tracks
Provision of vehicles and communication equipment
Provision of ranger equipment and uniforms
Maintenance of vehicles and provision of running costs

Wildlife Management Areas

The assistance to all the villages surrounding the Serengeti National Park for the creation of their own, locally administrated, Wildlife Management Areas has become a key activity of FZS during last year. 23 villages so far have shown an interest for WMA's. The main areas concerned are Robanda/Ikoma in the West, Loliondo/Lake Natron in the East and Makao/Lake Eyasi in the South.

Up to date, the following activities have been carried out
Contacts have been made with the Regional and District authorities and the local MP's. Twenty three different villages have shown interest in contributing to WMA's
All villages have elected wildlife committee members for the WMA
Twelve employees of the Wildlife Division, Serengeti Regional Conservation Strategy, Tanzania National Parks and Frankfurt Zoological Society have been trained in Participatory Rural Assessment (PRA) techniques
PRA workshops have been carried out in all villages providing the basic information for the WMA's and educating the villages on resource use through WMA's
Aerial Resource Assessments have been carried out in all the concerned areas
Socio-economic surveys were carried out in Loliondo and Makao
A study on land use economics was carried out in Loliondo
Boundaries were demarcated in three villages in Lake Natron
A study on the Hadzabe was completed
Presentation on WMA's were made in Loliondo, Makao and Robanda
Several awareness workshops for members of the village wildlife committees were carried out in Seronera

The Minister is expected to declare Wildlife Management Areas in a majority of the villages around the Serengeti by the end of the year.

Rhino Conservation

Historically, the Serengeti has been home to a population of approximately 1000 black rhinos that ranged from Ngorongoro through Serengeti and north to the Maasai Mara. In the 1980s, however, poaching in the Serengeti National Park expanded dramatically and the rhino population was reduced until only two animals remained within the park boundaries. These two rhinos, both female, were resident in the area surrounding Moru Kopjes on the western edge of the Serengeti plains.

The Serengeti Rhino Conservation Project was conceived with four specific goals:
to protect the remaining Serengeti rhinos
to monitor the Serengeti rhinos
to provide sound biological management to the Serengeti rhino population and
to secure the Moru area for the introduction of additional rhinos.

As a first step an new ranger post was bulit in the Moru Kopjes and a new patrol system was established in the area.

Since the initiation of the Serengeti Rhino Conservation Project, the future of the Serengeti rhinos has brightened considerably. In 1994, a new male originating from the Ngorongoro Crater joined our two remaining rhino females. He was obviously on a mission, traveled across the Serengeti plains and found the only two females in a hundred kilometers. In the five years that followed, four calves have been born to these two females, bringing the total number of rhinos in the Serengeti to seven. However, inbreeding is a serious problem for these rhinos. If we want the population to grow and remain healthy, new blood must be introduced. It is hoped that several rhinos from Kenya and from South Africa can be brought to Moru, to stock up and assure the future of this Serengeti core rhino population.

Montoring of the Serengeti Ecosystem

Through TANAPA Parks Ecologists
Support of Serengeti Ecology Department (Vehicles, computers, field equipment, tracking equipment, fuel, allowances etc).
Output: Maintenance and collection of rainfall data for the park, vegetation monitoring, water monitoring studies, environmental impact studies, sound pollution studies, wildebeest migration study with GPS collars, lion monitoring, rhino monitoring, fire management, mapping and monitoring, production of a Serengeti GIS database a.o.
Through TANAPA Vet Department
Support of the Serengeti Veterinarian Department (vehicles, lab equipment, top up salaries, national and international training courses, meetings, and training of rangers and ecologists etc)
Output: Disease monitoring in the Serengeti and other parks, disease studies, vaccination programs, training on different levels, local and international networking, maintenance of tissue databank, assistance to research projects in handling of wildlife, development of a veterinary policy a.o.
Through Tanazania Wildlife Conservation Monitoring (TWCM)
Running of Monitoring Project in all aspects, provision of salaries, vehicles, aircraft, computers etc Carrying out of regular aerial Census covering the whole Serengeti Ecosystem.
Output: Regular status reports on wildlife numbers in the Serengeti (and all conservation areas of Tanzania) through aerial surveys countrywide, training of ecologists, scientists and wardens, a.o.
Through the FZS Regional Office in Seronera
Service and repair of researcher vehicles at FZS garage. Provision of flights for radio tracking (lion, cheetah, and wildebeest). Provision of email and telephone service to researchers. Provision of security and communication radio network for Serengeti researchers. Provision of emergency assistance to researchers.

Wildlife Veterinary Department

More and more people with their domestic stock are living close to the Serengeti boundary. Increasingly the exchange of disease between domestic animals and wildlife is becoming a serious problem. This was the main reason that the Veterinary Project was formed a few years ago.

Under the leadership of Dr Titus Mlengeya the Project focused on:
Disease monitoring in and around the park
Establishment of a "cordon sanitaire" around the park (rabies, distemper, rinderpest)
Removal of snares from wildlife
Support of wildlife research

The Serengeti Vet Project is very active in the Serengeti, saving animals with snares around their neck, studying disease outbreak and dealing with emergencies. It made inroads into policies of animal handling, supported research projects with immobilisation and started to build up a tissue data bank. Serengeti National Park built a new laboratory at the parks HQ and the project provided the equipment including a solar deep freezer. A lot of the department's work happens outside Serengeti, co-ordinating vaccination campaigns and attending to diseases emergencies in other parks. FZS is continuing its support to all aspects of veterinary work: provision of vehicles and equipment, supply of drugs and lab equipment, training of staff and international networking.

Support of Research

As a conservation Organistaion, the Frankfurt Zoological Society supports mainly conservation and protected area management activities. All monitoring and wildlife census provides the bases for conservation action and is widely supported by FZS through different projects. Basic scientific projects are only funded if they address some urgent conservation matter. The FZS office provides basic logistic support to the major long term research propjects which are carried out in the Serengeti under the auspices of the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institut. Closest co-operation exists between FZS and the three long term reserach projects on cheetah, lions and on the Serengeti Biodiversity.

Cheetah Research
The present project phase has two main objectives:
To find out if a less protected area, where hunting and human disturbance keeps the lion and hyenas at a lower level, are indeed offering a better survival chance for the cheetah and their cubs.
To find out if the savannah and bush areas which offer more cover offer better living conditions to the cheetahs than the open plains.

The Serengeti Cheetah Project is co-financed by National Geographic and The Zoological Society of London with support from FZS.

Lion Research
One of the major goals of the Serengeti Lion Project is to identify trends in the ranging patterns and demographics of the lions that offer insights into the factors influencing the health of the population. Since 1984, one of the most valuable methods for studying these trends has been the monthly aerial tracking flights conducted by Frankfurt Zoological Society in cooperation with the Lion Project.

 
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