Arusha, Tanzania (eTN) – Drought in Tanzana’s northern highlands has reached deadly proportion, killing nearly 100 cattle in Longido and wildlife along the sprawling borderline of Kilimanjaro and Amboseli National parks.
Mass deaths of livestock have occurred in Lerang’wa na Olmolog villages in Longido, while wildlife have happened along the Kitendeni vast wildlife migration corridor straddling between Kilimanjaro and Amboseli National parks in Tanzania and Kenya respectively.
Nearly 20 analyzed samples of livestock carcasses show that the livestock had eaten poisonous “wild amaranth unfit for cattle consumptions,” as drought scorched the entire vegetations, leading to their mass deaths.
“Laboratory test of 20 samples of cattle carcasses confirmed the livestock have died early this month after eating poisonous wild amaranth,” the Northern zone Veterinary Investigation Centre officer in charge, Dr. Emmanuel Swai said.
Dr. Swai said millions of herds of cattle in the northern highland are currently facing the worst drought, after a lull of more than 48 years, scorched northern Tanzania’s thick vegetation and sucked its rivers dry.
Journalists covering the Natural Resources and Tourism Minister, Shamsa Mwangunga tour in Longido, witnessed several livestock and wildlife animals’ carcasses in Olmolog and Irkaswa villages in Longido district and Kitendeni wildlife corridor, apparently died of drought.
Olmolog ward councilor Mathias Mollel told journalists that a total of 80 livestock mysteriously died in Lerang’wa na Olmolog villages within the last two weeks, staggering fear among the livestock keepers.
Commenting, Longido MP Michael Lekule Laizer says the drought in the area has assumed a catastrophic dimension, putting millions of cattle and wildlife at risk of starving.
“The drought has deserted the cattle rich Longido district with most of livestock keepers moved as far as Simanjiro nearly 200km east-south of Longido searching for greener pastures” Laizer said.
Some, he said, went to Ngorongoro district located 300km west-north of Longido for the similar mission, leaving behind families facing the serious hunger.
Laizer said his territory needs nearly 3000 tones of food with immediate effect to rescue the population of 74,074 people from starving.
“The similar drought experienced in Longido way back in 1961, where millions of cattle and wildlife died as a result of phenomenon,” Laizer said.
Other parks in northern Tanzania also have dried up with their wildlife population migrating to human habitats scouting for water and green grass.
Wildlife conservationists in Tanzania and Kenya are worried over the survival of wild animals in the region, and if there will be no rain in the coming months, there could be a great loss of wildlife and a slump in tourism.
In Kenya, the most affected parks are Tsavo East and West in southern part of the country and Amboseli on the western foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro.