(i) Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary
Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary (MRS) was constructed by GAWPT in 1995 at the request of the Government of Tanzania. Managed by conservationist Tony Fitzjohn and his team, the MRS is the first and only rhino sanctuary in Tanzania. Currently 14 black rhinos live in the Sanctuary, and the animals are intensively protected by a team of dedicated anti-poaching patrols. Currently there are just 67 Eastern black rhinos in Tanzania and together with Tsavo National Park in Kenya on its northern boundary, the Tsavo / Mkomazi ecosystem (now a trans-frontier national park) forms one of the largest protected areas in Africa.
The overall aim of this project is to:
• Establish a viable breeding population of 25 Diceros bicornis michaeli whose offspring will be used to reinforce existing populations in Tanzania and Kenya.
This can be achieved through:
• Ongoing management of the current population and its habitat to maximize breeding and security
• Pursuance of negotiations for translocation of new animals from other successful sanctuaries / wildlife parks to diversify the gene pool and increase the trans-frontier conservation of the species (eg. the recent translocation of 3 black rhino from the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic to Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary).
• The completed extension of the existing Rhino Sanctuary area to allow for population growth and thereby increased carrying capacity, which will include increased optimum vegetation and natural water holes.
Establishing the Rhino Sanctuary involved the construction of a 31 km fence line, enclosing a 45 sq km area in prime rhino habitat. The fence stops the rhinos from straying out and provides the project staff with an alarm if someone tries to break in. The Tanzanian men and women who work within the Rhino Sanctuary are courageous and loyal and they take the responsibility of protecting these rhino very seriously. They still hold the reputation as being one of the most loyal and dedicated workforces in Africa. They also feel the benefits of a secure fence from which they can tackle a security situation and have some form of protection.
In order to fulfil the objectives of the project, the practical and logistical day-to-day management of the MRS has to be maintained to its existing high standard. A major element of this is keeping the surrounding fence line in good shape. Other wildlife also benefits from non-disturbance. Staff at MRS have noted a rising number in other species, including impala, giraffe, eland, lesser kudu, warthog and large and small cats.
The fence requires regular maintenance and repair. More wire, wooden talinised posts and staples are needed annually, to replace sections of the fence that have rotted or been damaged. The MRS has recently been extended by a further 9km and this has been supported by Wildize Foundation. Four security outposts were established along the fence-line itself with back-up security provided from internal outposts on hilltops as well as the main base-camp at Kisima - just over a mile away. External security was, and is, provided through the establishment of strategically placed outposts within the National Park, several miles away, and also through the deployment of mobile teams who patrol on a 20km radius of the Sanctuary. Tanzanian National Parks (TANAPA) have recently deployed their ranger teams to GAWPT external security outposts to work alongside the GAWPT personnel to enhance this protection. To date there have been no attempts on the rhinos or on the Tanzanian security guards who put their lives at risk to protect these animals.
In addition to extending the current fence line, GAWPT is also in the process of replacing the original fence-posts which were installed in 1996. There are 10,000 original fence posts and we estimate that we should replace about 1,500 per year. This is an undertaking requiring heavy physical manual labour and massive logistics.
The new talinised poles strengthen the fence line, and are either sustainably sourced (made from fast-growing species on renewable plantations) or are made of steel. Maintaining the fence is a continual process.
(ii) Wild Dog Captive Breeding, Veterinary and Translocation Programme
GAWPT is now committed to reintroducing the African Wild Dog to areas where they have previously had success.
The captive breeding and innoculation programme continues to be managed practically and run along the past fifteen years' established protocols. Breeding alpha pairs remain at our camp in the breeding compounds. Offspring, having helped the mother raise the subsequent litter, are separated and released into areas where they have most chance of success. Genetic analysis concluded "there is considerable genetic variation in the African Wild Dog population in The Mkomazi Project" (Dr Kappe, Gendika) which will satisfy reintroduction criteria.
The reintroduction of wild dogs is a highly complex operation due to their unique and complicated social structure and their requirement of a large home range with adequate prey species.
Discussions with relevant Government authorities in both and Kenya have taken place on reintroductions. A suitable reintroduction area on the Mkomazi / Tsavo border was identified which satisfied most of the criteria and two reintroduction compounds were constructed and manned at the site and reintroductions have since taken place on a regular basis.
There are reintroduction examples to draw on, especially in southern Africa and we are committed to keep reintroducing on a ‘pulse' basis annually, as some dogs will be successful whilst others may fail. We hope to develop the formulas that suit the different dynamics of reintroduction packs.
The next stage of reintroduction concentrates on building more reintroduction compounds along and close to the Mkomazi / Tsavo border at sites with suitable distances between them and the original site.
We have successfully bred wild dogs in captivity, we have successfully vaccinated wild dogs against rabies and canine distemper and we have had success with reintroduced packs. We will now endeavour to overcome the problems with reintroduction above-mentioned. Our main priority is to re- establish viable populations of healthy and genetically diverse stock back in the wild.
2011 Letter from Tony Fitzjohn to Eli and WildiZe
2010 Letter from Tony Fitzjohn, OBE
Photo Gallery for Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary
Photo Gallery for Mkomazi Wild Dog Breeding Program
Mkomazi Game Reserve is an intiative by the Tanzanian Government, George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust Fund and other Non-Government Organizations to re-establish the reserve such that nature (both flora and fauna) will survive in the long term as an ecosystem and to provide sanctuary for two endangered species of animals: the Black Rhino and the African Wild Dog.
WildiZe Foundation funds supported the:
- Construction of permanent security outposts,
- Purchases of communications equipment,
- Purchases of solar equipment to power electric fences
- Establishment of captive breeding programmes for endangered species,
- Establishment of educational, health and nature awareness programmes in the villages surrounding Mkomanzi Game Reserve.
WildiZe is a proud supporter of these critical efforts. Our funds have gone to upgrade security outposts in the Rhino sanctuary to deter poaching; educating bordering communities on wildlife and economic security; collaborating with TANAPA (Tanzanian National Park personnel) on poaching determent; and private and public security improvement.
Additional important projects that were augmented thanks to WildiZe support is the continued reintroduction of wild dogs to the natural ecosystem and hopeful reintroduction into bordering Tsavo National Park in Kenya. We also provided security guards with radios and chargers to connect outpost to base stations, and funded the installation uni-ports and solar equipment to power electric fences.
WildiZe has also funded the start up re-furbishment of George Adamson's old Kora camp inside Kora National Park near Meru, Kenya- home of Christian the Lion, Elsa and Born Free fame. The camp was destroyed upon the death of George Adamson, whence Tony Fitzjohn moved his efforts to Mkomazi.
Project web Site: http://www.georgeadamson.org/mkomazi
July 8th 2009: Update - from Tony Fitzjohn
We are having a fascinating time with these new rhinos from Czech. It's a whole different business reintroducing zoo-bred animals into the wild but we are extremely fortunate to have Berry White (ex head rhino keeper from Port Lympne Wildlife Park in the UK) to help slowly reintroduce them back into the wild.
All is going well with the WildiZe project. Uniports are on their way to both Kora National Park and Mkomazi National Park. Radio and solar equipment is all ordered for the Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary, and all is on track.
We are also getting on with putting up the Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary Fence Extension which is a huge clearing and fencing job, and the WildiZe funded uniport will then be put into this new extended area and it will house the security force who will patrol the area and keep the rhinos there safe.
We have 22 wild dog puppies so reintroductions will start next year.
And yesterday our Tanzanian school pupils had a lesson with HRH Prince Michael of Kent sitting in the classroom as one of their fellow pupils. They obviously had no idea that the man with the beard was the cousin of the Queen of England and it was so touching to see them trying to categorise mammals and fish and reptiles and amphibians with him watching.
Read all about the Chzech Rhino translocation...