GRUMETI Reserves, an ecotourism company owned by an American investor, has extended its helping hand to rural villages of Bunda District in the areas of development and conservation matters, the Minister for Natural Resources, Dr Damas Ndumbaro was told here recently.
“Grumeti Reserves Company has been supporting us in offering conservation education. The company has also assisted a vehicle and personnel who help to mitigate human wildlife interaction,” Bunda District Commissioner (DC) Ms Lidya Bupilipili said in part of her report to the minister.
The vehicle helps to prevent stray jumbos from invading farms and residential areas in several villages located near Grumeti / Ikorongo game reserves and the Serengeti National Park.
Ms Bupilipili said Grumeti Reserves which operates several world-class -lodges in Western Serengeti has also been providing money to the villages for development activities as well as sponsoring bright students from low-income families through its sister company of Grumeti Fund.
“Other benefits from Grumeti Fund include offering entrepreneurship skills and small scale activities to boost the income of our citizens”, the DC said.
The Bunda DC also cited the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) as another key development partner supporting community projects in areas of health and education in the villages.
Minister Ndumbaro inspected a health center project that received over 55m/- funding support from TANAPA to finance its finishing stages at Kihumbu village.
Minister Ndumbaro urged citizens of the beneficiary villages to protect wildlife in their areas and stop poaching activities.
He cautioned the villagers against turning wildlife conservation areas into grazing zones, insisting that heavy fines will be imposed on every herd of the cow that will be found grazing in wildlife conservation areas.
The minister also announced that the government will start paying citizens affected by wild animals including elephants in the villages as soon as possible.
According to the minister, over 209m/- has been set aside as consolation fee to those who were affected by the wild animals in different ways in the district.
“I have good news for you, your government has allocated 209m/- that will be sent here in two weeks’ time from now. The money meant to console families of those who were affected by wild animals”, Dr Ndumbaro said during his first working tour in the region.
Traditional elders from Kihumbu village handed over weapons that were used for illegal poaching and pledged to support the government’s anti-poaching campaign.
Dr Ndumbaro was accompanied by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr Allan Kijazi and other top officials from TANAPA, Wildlife Department and Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI).