THE visiting US billionaire and conservationist, Mr Howard Buffet, has pledged to provide an R44 helicopter for surveillance against poaching in the Selous Game Reserve to arrive in the country in six months’ time.
Through the Howard G. Buffet Foundation (HGBF), the renowned ecologist said his foundation will on the other hand lease a helicopter to patrol the reserves starting mid next month pending arrival of the chopper to be provided to the country.
In a statement availed to the press yesterday, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Lazaro Nyalandu, said the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) will also purchase a helicopter of the same make to conduct patrols in the Ngorongoro corridor, Loliondo, Manyara and Tarangire.
“The chopper will be delivered in the next six months. The HGBF will also sponsor training of four pilots for the two helicopters.
The training will be conducted either in the United States or South Africa starting June 1, this year,” the minister said in the statement.
According to Mr Nyalandu, the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) will also acquire one helicopter of Bell make and support training of two pilots.
“This helicopter will be much bigger and will thus enable TANAPA to conduct joint patrols with the police force which also uses a chopper of the same make,” Mr Nyalandu said.
The minister explained further that the HGBF will foot all the costs for leasing of the helicopter, salaries for pilots and fuel while the ministry will cater for meals and accommodation for the pilots during patrols.
In another development, HGBF in collaboration with the ministry have hired two consultants to give advice to the Selous Game Reserves and the Pasiansi Wildlife Training College for six months, the Minister said.
After consultations with the ministry, the HGBF has also agreed to support strengthening of training for game rangers and improvement of infrastructure at the Pasiansi Wildlife Training College to boost anti-poaching and conservation efforts.
Minister Nyalandu, who made a visit to the college with Mr Buffet, said the government has announced employment opportunities for 450 game rangers out of 950 it plans to employ during this financial year.
“During this week, the ministry will also disburse 25 AK47 rifles to the college for training purposes,” he said.
The American billionaire will spend a total of 8.6bn/- to support capacity building and anti-poaching efforts through purchase of vehicles, GPS equipment and training among others.