THE West Corridor, or Serengeti West as you might call it, is an expanse of land that follows the course of the Grumeti River from the center of the Serengeti for about 100 kilometers towards Lake Victoria.
Once here, when it comes to ecology and tourism in the western Serengeti, there is no other option if you love nature, than to think only of the sustainable conservation of the game reserves of the Serengeti. ‘Ikorongo / Grumeti (IGGR).
Here, the wildlife-rich reserves are an integral part of the great Serengeti ecosystem, home to the Big Five (Lion, Rhinoceros, Leopard, Elephant and Ox – roaming freely in their own habitat is something you will never forget) and do even more Tanzania is the most eligible wildlife conservation area that any serious stakeholder should think about.
By their nature, IGGRs are also part of the Serengeti – Maasai Mara ecosystem through which migrating herds, including wildebeest, zebras and Thomson’s gazelles, from Ngorongoro National Park and Serengeti, pass every year of May to July en route to the Maasai Mara in Kenya.
Thus, any destruction of these reserves can lead to a disruption of the great migration. In an exclusive interview with this newspaper recently, the director of the Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA) Laurent Martin Katakweba in the lake area was of the opinion that “the ecology of the Serengeti is incomplete without the presence of the Grumeti game reserves / Ikorongo “.
He further described the game reserves covering approximately 993.4 square kilometers as potential in terms of wildlife population, investment and income generation.
“The situation for wildlife in the game reserves is excellent. More importantly, both game reserves have the Big Five, in addition to other beautiful wildlife and different species of birds that are worth seeing. .
“These animals have been named the Big Five because they are not only among the most poached animals, but also the most difficult and dangerous to hunt on foot,” he added.
Ikorongo and Grumeti were declared Game Control Zones (GCA) in accordance with Government Notice No. 209 published on November 8, 19974.
The purpose of these GCAs under the Mara Regional Administration was to form a buffer zone with the western part of the Serengeti National Park and to protect the migration route. Ikorongo GCA had an area of 3,000 km2 and Grumeti GCA 2,000 km2, for a total of 5,000 km2.
For effective protection of wildlife and migratory routes, the IGGR have been reclassified to the status of hunting reserves in accordance with government opinion No. 214 published on June 10, 1994.
In the course, there have been further reductions in boundaries, including the evacuation of some local communities, now leaving Ikorongo GR to cover an area of 558.9 km2, while Grumeti GR covers an area of 484.5 km2, or a total of 993.4 km2.
The game reserves are also unique due to a beautiful landscape of large plains with short grasses that provide good visibility for wildlife viewing.
“Any game reserve with the Big Five definitely attracts investors,” said the veteran Tanzanian wildlife expert.
The scenic beauties of the plains, hills, riparian forests and abundant wildlife as well as rare and endemic species present, including a great wildebeest migration, are outstanding tourist attractions in the reserves.
“Photographic tourism is very dominant in the reserves. The activities that are carried out mainly here are game watching, bird watching, walking safari, breakfast in the bush, sunset and balloon safaris.
Also because of the good terrain in the area, night safaris are organized, ”added a report from TAWA.
Over the past decades, Game Reserves have been fortunate to have a model investor, who has made a significant contribution to conservation and local development in the Western Serengeti, which includes the Wildlife Management Area Ikona (WMA).
Mr Katakweba appointed investor Grumeti Reserves Ltd, an ecotourism company that operates world-class luxury lodges and photographic tourism in the Ikorongo / Grumeti and Ikona WMA concession areas.
Ikona is considered to be the wealth of Tanzanian wildlife, according to the WMA in terms of wildlife and income generation.
Over the past five years (between 2015 and 2020) for example, the AMM has generated over 8.5 billion / – in revenue for the government, and has also devoted much of its support to community development projects. .
In expanding, Mr. Katakweba said the US investor has a valuable contribution to community development, poaching prevention and sustainable conservation in IGGR and WMA.
He added: “We are planning to introduce a new product called SWICA (Special Wildlife Investment Conservation Area) and Grumeti Reserves is eligible for this special investment.
In his remark, he pointed out that part of the investment income from Grumeti Reserves goes to Serengeti and Bunda district councils to support development projects, including improvement of social services, adding that up to 25 % of income goes to Serengeti and Bunda.
Likewise, the Serengeti District Council receives about 200 m / – of income from hunting every year.
Interestingly though, although the American investor has invested in tourist hunting in the concession areas, his primary concern is wildlife conservation, not hunting.
“As Tanzania celebrates 60 years of independence, we are proud of this huge investment which continues to provide us with foreign currency for national development,” said the TAWA official.
Despite income generation, sustainable conservation of game reserves is imperative to protect Serengeti National Park given their geographic location.
In other words, the IGGR acts as a buffer zone with the Serengeti National Park which is one of the most important and famous protected areas on the planet.