Mtango Mtahiko, Serengeti National Park’s new Chief Park Warden, is full of energy, enthusiasm and knowledge. He is frequently seen dropping in to say hello at the FZS Africa Regional Office in Seronera and has attended several events around the park. On February 4th he was in Seronera receiving a formal handover of nine vehicles donated by FZS for TANAPA’s use in the Serengeti. He was also present at recent ceremonies for the Serengeti Rhino Protection Unit.
Mtahiko brings a wealth of experience with him to the Serengeti from numerous parks around Tanzania. After completing practical studies at Mweka and acquiring a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Management at the University of Dar es Salaam, he was sought out by the Tanzanian government to work on their behalf as an ecologist for TANAPA in Mikumi National Park.
“That did not last long,” Mtahiko said grinning, “They decided to hire me on as the Head of their Protection Department.” His CV in the years following became filled with positions as Chief Park Warden across numerous areas in Tanzania, first at Ruaha National Park, then Rubondo Island National Park, and finally Lake Manyara National Park. He refused to choose his favorite National Park, but seemed to have a soft spot for Rubondo Island.
His goals for the Serengeti National Park are lofty and include strong focus on resource protection. Mtahiko’s desire to reduce poaching began in 1987 at Mikumi National Park. As head of the Protection Department, Mtahiko spearheaded an initiative to better the infrastructure in the park and open up the area lying adjacent to the Selous Game Reserve. The area had been unreachable and with this new access, they were able to better police the region and reduce poaching. “That area was heavily invested in as elephants used the park for refuge. By building a road and two ranger posts, we were able to tackle some of the poaching problems,” he remarked. Similarly on Rubondo Island, Mtahiko used his role as Chief Park Warden to help reduce the intensity of poaching and further infrastructure on the island. He will continue to be faced with poaching issues in the Serengeti, and has thus made reducing it, one of his goals.
Apart from anti-poaching he hopes to increase tourism in other areas of the park, specifically in the north where resources are abundant year-round and the scenery is stunning. The overall tasks of being Chief Park Warden have been greatly influenced by tourism over the years. Visitors need to be educated about the places they are visiting and the areas they flock to need to be better managed
Mtahiko has many tasks in the days ahead but he remains optimistic. He is happy to be calling the Serengeti his new home and, thankfully, has enough time on the weekends to enjoy the park and explore its incredible beauty.
All Pictures: Felix Borner
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