Arusha, Tanzania (eTN) – Overwhelmed by the influx of hungry immigrant’s livestock in northern sprawling tourism circuit, the state has declared it will confiscate all aliens stocks encroaching into protected areas.

Millions of herds of cattle in the neighboring Kenya are facing the worst drought, after a lull of more than 10 years, scorched south-western Kenya’s thick vegetation and sucked its rivers dry, compelling the herdsmen to drive their starved animals into Tanzania and Uganda, seeking ‘greener pastures.

Tanzania’s northern tourism circuit is the hardest hit by the influx of the starved livestock, with Kenyan herdsmen being sent off nearly 300,000 combined herds of cattle into this fragile territory, threatening land degradation, particularly in protected areas.

Visiting Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Shamsa Mwangunga is up in arms, saying the state will now confiscate all foreign livestock intruding into any protected territories. “The wildlife conservation Act allows confiscation of the immigrant’s herds of cattle trespassing into protected areas,” Mwangunga told the crowd of Maasai pastoralists in Longido and Ngorongoro peripheral districts in Arusha.

Efforts to repatriate the Kenyan livestock amicably has been tricky because northern tourism circuit is a Maasai land and the ethnic group has extended families across either sides of the border therefore most local pastoralists collude with their foreign relatives.

A cabinet minister responsible for a key ministry, however, warned the local livestock keepers to stop with immediate effect from hosting aliens herds of cattle at their own and national expense.

The northern safari circuit covering 300 kilometers, stretching from Arusha to Serengeti National Park, is one of the most valuable strips of tourism real estate in Arusha, responsible for 550,000 tourists with combined revenues of nearly US$700million.

The legendary tourism circuit comprises the world freestanding mountain Kilimanjaro with 5,895 meters above sea level, sprawling Serengeti, Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Parks and Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which contains the Ngorongoro crater.

The territory is responsible for nearly 80 percent of Tanzania’s total foreign earnings from tourism and in addition is one of few destinations in Sub-Saharan Africa, outside of South Africa, which operate at a scale to attract mainstream international tour operators.

Tanzania’s tourism earnings for 2008 are being estimated at $1.3 billion from 770,376 visitors. The sector employs around 200,000 people directly and accounting for around a quarter of the country’s total foreign exchange earnings.

It also supports allied industries like food services and transport. Tanzania expects to pocket $1.5 billion annually by attracting one million tourists per year by 2010.

However, the global financial crisis has already impacted on the sector, forcing the state-run marketing board, the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB), to trim down its projection for 2009 by three percent.

TTB cut down the 2009 tourism earnings forecast of $1bn from 950,000 visitors, by about three percent due to the global economic downturn.