MONDAY October 30, 2023
By Patty Magubira
The Tranquility News Reporter, Tanzania
Apparently a poachers’ well-kept secret in the middle of the sprawling Ruaha National Park in southern Tanzania is the latest hotspot every conservationist, geologist, archeologist and enthusiast will be attracted to.
Until recently when a search for poachers and other criminals encroaching on the park was mounted, none of the past and present officials had spotted the place now christened Ruaha Amazing Site.
Evidently only poachers and other criminals from neighbouring villages were aware of the site they turned into their hideout when conservation rangers sought them.
Conservation officials led by the park Commander Godwell Meing’ataki first saw the awe-inspiring site at Magda, south of the over 20,000-square-kilometre park, aboard a chopper.
The management of the park has since October last year been using choppers, planes, drones and camera traps, among other gadgets, for carrying out special patrols aimed at driving headers and thousands of their livestock out of the park.
“After we detected the site from the sky, we were curious to trace it,” the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) Senior Assistant Conservation Commissioner tells first journalists to visit the site recently.
Hard and soft pillars of different shapes caused by many years of soil erosion are scattered around the place.
Undulating hills covered by miombo woodland surround the valley whose spectacular pillars jut out at the same height of the hills.
Created over 59 years ago, Ruaha National Park is home to more than 20,000 buffaloes, 15,000 jumbos, 575 bird species, 300 ostriches and 15 species of reptiles.
Nonetheless, no wildlife animal is seen in the site save for the footprints of buffaloes on the ground and small flies buzzing as they rush to the visitors’ ears, nose and eyes.
Also found at the site are caves and rocks formed into different sizes and shapes, with some resembling those used for grinding cereals and herbs during the stone age.
A scout visiting the authentic-looking site will admit that the valley makes a perfect location for movies and TV shows.
“We will liaise with different experts to carry out research on the pillars, rocks and the soil in a bid to gather sufficient information tourists visiting the place need to know,” Commander Meing’ataki says.
The TANAPA Senior Assistant Conservation Commissioner is upbeat the site will add the number of days a tourist spends on sampling attractions in the Tanzania’s second largest park after the Nyerere one.
Owing to the distance and the size of the site, a tourist needs at least a day or two to view and learn about the formation of the landscape of significant experience.
However, before the site is opened to the public, TANAPA and the park management have a role to play, including constructing a 70-kilometre road from the park headquarters to the valley.
They have to collaborate with other tourism players to devise a special package for the site and invest in infrastructure, particularly accommodation facilities.
Ruaha National Park along with surrounding communities can jointly develop a proposal to convince the UNESCO Geoparks Council and Executive Board to register the place in the list of sites and landscape of international geographical significance.
Geopark is a protected area with internationally significant geology within which sustainable development is sought through tourism, conservation, education and research.
Only two geoparks are in Africa, namely M’Goun in Morocco and Ngorongoro Lengai in Tanzania.
An aspiring UNESCO Global Geopark must have a geological heritage of international value managed by a body having legal existence recognised under national legislation that has a comprehensive management plan, covering governance, development, communication, protection, infrastructure, finance, and partnership with local communitiesΩ