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Anthrax kills 42 hippos in Tanzania Ruaha National Park

ARUSHA Tanzania (Xinhua) -- An outbreak of anthrax has killed at least 42 hippopotami in south-central Tanzania’s famed Ruaha National Park, authorities said on Monday.

Christopher Timbuka, Ruaha Chief Park Warden said earlier investigation show the wild animals were killed by anthrax, an infection caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthraces.

According to the official, a survey carried between August and early September, this year, shows that death cases were found in three key areas, which are popular for hosting hippos in the sanctuary.

“This is the largest number of hippos to have been killed in the park by the disease,” Timbuka said, adding: “We’ve already sent samples of the dead hippos to the Chief Government Chemist Laboratory Agency for more investigation.”

He cited an acute water shortage in Great Ruaha River as one of the factors for an outbreak of the disease in the sanctuary.

“We’re perplexed with the limited water in the river, particularly during this dry season,” said Timbuka, adding that hippos in the park move upstream over long distances as the river dries up in the dry season.

“This forces them to congregate in large numbers in the few remaining areas along the river containing water of suitable volume and depth. And an outbreak of the infectious disease poses a deadly challenge to conservation,” the official said, noting that hippos are supposed to remain submerged in water during the day to prevent overheating and severe sunburn.

He, however, said measures have been taken to control the spread of the deadly disease in the park of about 20,226 square kilometres, the similar size with New Jersey, a state in the north-eastern and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States.

“Bacteria Bacillus anthrax is caused by a number of factors including the use of dirty water, in which for this case used by hippos in Ruaha River,” he said.

The park warden said last year five hippos and three giraffes died in the park, though it wasn’t clear on the cause of the deaths.

So far, the Tanzanian government has established a special task force aimed at finding a lasting solution to the ecology of Great Ruaha River, which is currently overwhelmed with anthropogenic factors, according to chief park warden.

“The task force is mandated to ensure that water flows in the river throughout the year,” the official said.



Tanzanian parliament ratifies treaty on oil pipeline project with Uganda

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian parliament on Monday ratified the Intergovernmental Agreement between Tanzania and Uganda on the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project.

Parliament ratified the agreement after earlier this year Tanzania and Uganda agreed to construct the 1,445 km pipeline from the oilfields of Hoima in Uganda to Tanga port in Tanzania.

Palamagamba Kabudi, the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, told the House that Tanzania stood to benefit a lot from the 3.5 billion U.S. dollar oil pipeline project.

“The project is expected to create 10,000 jobs during construction and other 10,000 jobs during implementation of the project,” said Kabudi in his statement read on his behalf by the Minister for Information, Culture and Sports, Harrison Mwakyembe.

Kabudi told the august House that the project will also help Tanzanians to gain experience in running gas and oil projects.

Kabudi said the treaty also stipulates areas of cooperation, rights and freedoms to the project operators as well as the concessions the government provides for the project.

After signing the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA), the state parties are supposed to establish a working group called IGA Consultation Committee made up of qualified representatives of each country, said the minister.

He said the committee will serve as a body in which the two countries exchange information and consult in respect to questions relating to the agreement on the project.

The agreement also stipulates that there shall be no customs and import duties on machinery, capital goods and temporary importation of any motor vehicles for the direct and exclusive use in the EACOP project.

The treaty gives exemption of transit fees on the transport of petroleum in the EACOP project.

Uganda estimates overall crude reserves at 6.5 billion barrels, while recoverable reserves are seen at between 1.4 billion and 1.7 billion barrels.


Tanzania to revive cultivation of cotton, four other major cash crops

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said on Saturday the government was planning to revive the cultivation of five major cash crops of cotton, tea, coffee, cashew nuts, and tobacco in the coming farming season.

The government has decided to make a close follow-up specifically on cotton farming where it will supervise the whole process from farm preparation, planting, application of fertilizers and insecticides, harvesting and marketing, Majaliwa said.

Majaliwa was speaking in the political capital Dodoma during his meeting with 10 regional commissioners from cotton-growing regions.

“It was high time that cotton farmers benefited from their sweat,” he told the meeting, organized to discuss the revival of cotton farming in the regions of Shinyanga, Singida, Kagera, Tabora, Morogoro, Mara, Mwanza, Simiyu, Katavi and Geita.

“We are determined to revive cultivation of our major cash crops including cotton,” Majaliwa said. “I have started with you because I know you have the capacity to supervise and guide farmers.”

The prime minister directed the regional commissioners to make sure that district extension officers worked closely with farmers at all the stages, from farm preparation to harvesting.

“The main job of extension officers in these regions will be to ensure enough cotton yields in the coming farming season,” he said.

Majaliwa said cotton had to become the number one export crop as it had been in previous years when people referred to it as “white gold.” 


Illegal gold mining threatens forest in northern Tanzania

ARUSHA Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Protected forest in northern Tanzania’s Chome Nature Reserve is threatened by illegal activities of artisanal gold mining, authorities warned on Sunday.

Rosemary Staki, Same District Commissioner, said groups of artisanal miners have stormed the reserve in search of gold, polluting rivers and the ground with toxic substances.

The reserve lies in the Eastern Arc Mountains, and is located few kilometers from Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain.

Staki said that Tanzanian government plans to set up a patrol camp deep into the forest to save the 14,000 hectares of forests located in the Pare Mountains, between the West Usambara and the North Pare Mountains.

“I have witnessed the environmental destruction of highest scale. In some areas, 2 kilometers of the forest are completely destroyed by the miners,” she said in an interview.

The official added that a team of forest rangers has been sent into the affected forests to remove the artisanal miners.

According to her, local governments have been tasked to come up with community policing groups as a sustainable measure to address illegal mining in the forest, which is surrounded by 27 villages.

Asteriko Mahiga, Officer Commanding District (OCD), said so far, six artisanal miners have been arrested for mining in the protected areas.

According to the country’s Mining Act Number 14 of 2010, no one will be allowed to perform any exploration or mining activity without the approval of the authorities.



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