The president of Tanzania, John Magufuli has directed his minister of Natural Resources and other relevant government institutions to split Selous Game Reserve to form a new national park.
According to Magufuli, the current situation of the Selous Game Reserve is not economically viable to benefit Tanzania through tourism since it is mostly being used for hunting safaris and a few photographic safaris being carried in the Reserve.
He thus ordered Selous Game Reserve be split and make its upper part a National Park to spur tourism growth and conservation of wildlife.
The directive was made during the launch of the controversial hydroelectric dam project in the same reserve amidst protests from conservationists.
Conservation groups have opposed the hydroelectric dam project in the Selous Game Reserve, arguing that it will have a long lasting impact on the wildlife and eco life in the area.
Expected to take three years to finish, the project will see 2.6 million trees cut down to flood an area covering about 1,200sq km, including the habitats of the site’s last remaining black rhinos.
Opponents of the project say it could also threaten the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people downstream, who depend on the river for agriculture and fisheries.
Covering the area of about 55,000 square kilometres, Selous Game Reserve contains the biggest concentration of crocodiles, hippos and buffaloes than any other known wildlife park in the entire African continent.
Selous’ panoramic plains are decorated with golden grass, savannah forests, riverine marshes and boundless lakes.
Rufiji River, the biggest river in Tanzania cuts through the Reserve with its brownish waters flowing to the Indian Ocean.
Famous for its crocodile population and big school of hippos, Rufiji River provide water to most parts of Selous Game Reserve.
Evening and early morning boat excursions along its course, is the other tourist activity inside the Reserve.
Selous stands as the biggest wildlife conserved park in Africa with the largest concentration of elephants in the world where more than 110,000 heads are found roaming in its plains.
Larger than Switzerland, Denmark or Ireland, the Selous Game Reserve is the second largest wildlife protected area in Africa, and the wildest area in the world.