Robanda village is threatening to withdraw from Ikona Wildlife Management Area (WMA) that is made up of five villages of Serengeti District in Mara Region, describing it as helpless.
The village average annual income has decreased from 350m/- to 10m/- after joining the WMA bordering the world famous Serengeti National Park and game reserves of Ikorongo and Grumeti. Other villages forming the WMA are Robanda, Park Nyigoti, Natta Mbiso, Makundusi and Nyichoka.
“Before the formation of the WMA, we used to earn up to 350m/- from investors operating in our village alone, but we are now getting 10m/- per year,” Ikoma Ward Councillor Mr Sebastian Banagi accompanied by several other local leaders told the ‘Me’ earlier this week. “The only option is for Robanda village to withdraw from being part of the WMA.”
Mr Banagi lamented that as a result, execution of many projects like construction of a secondary school and a health centre had stalled. The AA has even failed to give its financial report to beneficiaries for six years now.
The AA has signed contracts with five serious investors currently investing in the WMA located on part of the route used by annual migration of wildebeests and zebras, according to IKona WMA Chairman, Mr Chama Mrigo.
“It is only Robanda village which is complaining out of the five villages. They have a hidden agenda,” Mr Mrigo said. He disclosed that the WMA had so far given every village 83m/- between 2007 and 2011. The problem of Robanda is that they want to eat the cake we get from investors without sharing it with other villages,” the Ikona WMA boss said.
He, however, failed to give the exact figure of money the WMA receives from the investors. However, there were reports that the WMA had received close to 700m/- in the past three years.Ikona became the first Wildlife Management Area to be established in Tanzania in 1998 with aim to enable communities living near game protected areas to direct contracts with foreign and local investors in areas of photographic and hunting tourism. A large part of the Ikona WMA potential for photographic tourism is located in Robanda village which has highest number of investors compared to the neighboring villages.
“Robanda has good area for photographic tourism and we have no problem even if we withdraw from this deal. To make things worse it was the Wildlife Department which is now collecting revenue from investors contrary to the laid down procedures,” the councillor said.
The local leaders blamed Tourism and Natural Resources Minister Ezekiel Maige for allegedly giving them empty promises that he was to visit them and find lasting solution on the their concerns before the situation gets out of hand.
Serengeti District Council Chairman Mr John Ng’oina confirmed that the riff between Robanda illagers and the Ikona WMA was deepening, calling for immediate intervention from the Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources.
“The minister promised to come and help to end this problem soon after the last parliamentary budget session, but he is yet to be seen to date,” Mr Ng’oina said. Unfortunately I could not contact Minister Maige for comment.
Written by Bright Sospeter YET-2011