Tanzania: River Rubana Under Threat, Task Force Formed for Rescue

RIVER Rubana that runs through the integral part of the Serengeti ecosystem before discharging water into Lake Victoria is in danger of disappearing, conservationists have warned, calling for immediate actions.

“The level of water in the river has significantly dropped, it is becoming just an empty river,” a government official familiar with water sources conservation matters in Mara region told the ‘Daily News’ in Serengeti recently.

Increased human activities, including livestock keeping and deforestation are cited to be some of the reasons threatening the survival of the river.

Already, a special task force comprising about 25 officials from several conservation organisations has been formed to rescue the river from extinction with Grumeti Fund playing a vital role in the initiatives, by supporting restoration of vegetation on the banks of the river, among other things.

“So far, we have donated 26,000 tree seedlings sourced from the Tanzania Forest Services (TFS) available for planting in all areas surrounding the river banks and we are happy to be part of the team of conservation stakeholders working hard to save the Rubana River,”

Relationships Manager at Grumeti Fund, Mr David Mwakipesile said yesterday.

Grumeti Fund is a non-profit organisation that supports conservation and community development activities in Western Serengeti.

Besides, Grumeti Fund, other stakeholders in the special task force are TFS, Lake Victoria Basin Water Body (LVBWB) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

“Aim of the task force is to manage all rivers in the Serengeti ecology but we have started with Rubana River”, the chairperson of the task force, Mr Kanuni Kanuni said when reached for comment.

The task force, he said, is working closely with Serengeti District authorities.

“We have already met to strategise on how to save Rubana River and restoration of vegetation as well as demarcation and installation of beacons at the distance of 60 metres away from the river are some of the activities we are going to do,” Mr Kanuni, who is also the Project Officer at WWF in Mara Region office said.

He said the target is to plant 36,000 trees on the banks of the river which is also a source of water for wildlife and several hundreds of neighbouring villages.

Serengeti District Commissioner (DC), Dr Vicent Mashinji was this week quoted in the media saying everything possible will be done to save the river from all current threats.

The DC’s statement comes at the time when livestock keepers in the area are also requesting to be allowed to continue using the river for grazing matters, something which may continue causing further harm.

Besides being a source of water for wild animals the existence of Rubana River also supports lives of local communities in many ways.

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