Illegal mining along the Zigi River in Tanzania’s East Usambara Mountains is endangering the survival of an internationally recognized biodiversity nature reserve in the east African nation’s coastal region of Tanga, a conservator said on Tuesday.
Mwanaidi Kijazi, the conservator at the Amani Nature Reserve in Tanga region, said illegal mining activities in the area started with the gold rush triggered by the discovery of alluvial gold at Sakale village in the East Usambara Mountains from April 2003 up to 2004.
Kijazi said illegal mining activities were specifically being carried out in the Greater Zigi at Kihara areas, affecting the 8,380-hectare biodiversity reserve.
“The illegal mining is being done in swampy areas of the reserve, river banks and river sources,” she said in her presentation of a proposal aimed at keeping the reserve under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The area received the biosphere reserve status in 2000 under the UNESCO Management and Biosphere Reserve program.
Kijazi said the reserve also faces other challenges, including illegal logging.
She called for a total ban on illegal gold mining and logging in the Amani Nature Reserve.
The reserve was established in 1997 by the government of Tanzania to protect the flora and fauna of the East Usambara Mountains, recognized globally as part of one of the 34 biodiversity hotspots characterized by high concentrations of endemic species under threat of extinction. Enditem