The Momella Guardians

requesting the visit of the Hon. Lazaro Nyalandu (MP)

Dear Hon. Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dear Lazaro,

Extending you our warmest regards from the Hatari Lodge, Momella.

I, Marlies Gabriel, gratefully recall our 30 minute discussion in Berlin this past March about the future of Arusha National Park’s and therefore the future of Momella.

You graciously gave us your precious time and listened to our heavy concerns.

At that time you promised to immediately take action and managed to return our leader of the anti poaching unit. We sincerely thank you Lazaro.

Mr. Shayo of TANAPA recently returned to Arusha National Park from the operation in Katavi and was shocked about the current situation within the park from when he was last here. He could tell that within the last 12 months we lost near to all of our wildlife.

Our mutual friend Raabia Hawa rightfully called our generation the era of wildlife genocide. Genocide is happening on our doorsteps in Arusha National Park the, tourism gate to Tanzania’s famous Northern Safari Circuit.Raabia met with you last weekend in Nairobi and Hatari Lodge & our Shu’mata Camp are part of her ‘walk with ranger’ initiative starting in June this year.


I have attached a photo of you and I together when talking to you in Berlin.

The photo was taken by another mutual friend, a patriot to Tanzania and conservationist, Ronit Hershkovitz, whom I have copied in this mail.

Ronit is arriving in Tanzania this coming Saturday (tomorrow) the 12th on the scheduled charter from Israel and she is staying with 21 guests at our lodge over the weekend.

YOUR visit - to Momella

Sunday, April 13th, 1pm

Hatari Lodge

Ronit extended our gratefulness to you and invited you to Momella this coming Sunday,the 13th of April to stay.

We ask that you do come and spent some of your precious time with us.

We’ve even reserved you a room here at the lodge. However, even if your time allows only a stay for lunch we would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you then.

We very much want to speak to you about our immediate and future plans for which we would need the assistance of your government.

Please let us know if you have the time to come meet with us as we know all too well that time is a precious commodity. The current slaughtering of Tanzania’s wildlife is happening at such a rapid pace there is very little time left for our remaining animals. We need your help in not only protecting the wildlife in Tanzania but also the wildlife right here in our immediate area.

Minister, we do need your advice and guidance as guardians of Momella.

To recap the current situation of ANP:

We understand that there is no scientific and written proof that we already lost nearly all of our wildlife but it is clear to those of us here that:

  • 80% of our buffalo & warthog population are lost to ‘nyama choma’ outside the National Parks
  • Close to 50% of our giraffes are gone due to retaliation killings based on the ongoing and historical dispute.
  • There are only a handful of waterbucks left.
  • There are very few leopards & hyenas remaining as they have been poisoned due to human-wildlife conflict
  • And the elephants are being decimated, …they are precious and have adapted to live in the rainforest high up the mountain.

I witnessed my first elephant carcass on my way to the airport to catch my flight to Berlin. Thereafter, a ranger told us that it’s the third carcass – just since January.

I believe that there are even much more elephants poached as their sightings become rarer and rarer.

Two young elephants were lost to snares as the National Parks have no vets to assist them in removing snares from around their legs. In the end, it was infection that killed those young elephants.

Raabia is trying to raise funds for a mobile veterinary clinic for Tanzania’s Northern Safari Parks. We already have the commitment from the Cologne vets but need the assistance of your government to implement the same.

Although we have no scientific evidence, the rangers of Arusha National Park, our guides and ourselves believe that we have lost nearly all of our wildlife in ANP and surroundings. We have ten years of proof. However the last 12 months have been the worst period of LOSS.

  • The very sad part of the story is that our reports are not being heard and not being followed up.
  • We have a man power problem as the rangers can not do anti-poaching as their duties are shared.
  • We have many walking activities on offer in the park and therefore the anti poaching rangers have to take care of the tourism activities as well.
  • The warden and the park office are not able to take control. They tell tourists, stakeholders and Momella residents that the animals have moved. Yes these animals have moved heaven.

Both my husband and myself are professional and certified guides and been in the industry for over 20 years. We do understand and know wildlife through our education and vast experiences.

We are hoteliers but mostly we are conservationists.

Minister - the current situation and survival of Arusha National Park is critical and highly threatened.

Please have a look at the above picture on rhinos in the 1960’s in Momella.

ANP at that time was fortunate to have the highest number of rhinos per square km in all of AFRICA. This was only 40 years ago. Today there is NO RHINO LEFT in ANP.

They have been hunted and poached to extinction in and around the National Park !!!

We started to refurbish Hatari Lodge and put Momella back on the map - exactly 10 years ago!

By then there were no rhinos left BUT the park was known as ‘Giraffic’ Park being home to a huge number of giraffes. Now there are times when on a game drive within the park that the tourist are fortunate if they are able to see even one giraffe.

In Berlin you mentioned that we are running out of time. I 100% agree. You and I do not want to be the generation known for taking part in the genocide of our wildlife. What will we tell our children, that we knew and did nothing about it?

  • Wildlife in and around ANP has decreased tremendously in only 10 years BUT village life has increased greatly through human population explosion.
  • The village of Momella has increased by 50% since the last 10 years.
  • There are no borders separating the park from human settlement and livestock grazing. There is no buffer zone protecting this little gem of a park due to historical disputes.
  • The tomato fields from the Meru tribe are now reaching beyond the border attracting wildlife on to their fields.
  • Village dogs are being trained to hunt, and if we are not careful rabies will soon spread fast.
  • Livestock herders push the buffalo herds back into the park to get close to the border to poach wood.
  • Acacias are disappearing by the second and the rainforest of Mt Meru is now heavily threatened, therefore the catchment area for Arusha’s water is therefore under threat.

Momella still has no power lines nor has it been willing to invest in low fuel ovens. Our Momella Foundation has built a few ovens and offered the same for the village to take part with the cost. Cow dung is still not an alternative for the Meru tribe.

As long as Mother Nature provides nyama and kuni free of charge, and as long as we can not find that missing link to educate a better coexistence between wildlife and human settlement, our natural resources will cease to exist and ultimately there will not be a future for the generation of tomorrow.

Our personal emotional energy and motivation still leaves room for possible solutions for our part of the Arusha National Park.

There was an elephant genocide taking part in all over sub-Saharan Africa in the eighties and human kind did not learn from all the slaughtering. Why is this repeating again? Why can we not concentrate on the need to educate the generations of tomorrow simply to avoid genocide of any of our wildlife and to support the importance of coexistence? Where are our ‘safe heavens’? Our protected ‘arks’? Our educational and conservation centres? Ways to educate, to protect, and to support?

Hatari Lodge, Arusha National Park & the proposed conservation centre for Wild Africa! The way fwd...

The dynamics within the village have changed:

  • The tomato monoculture has taken over land, water resources, damaging and poisoning the ecosystem.
  • The only way to detain further human encouragement towards the buffer zone of the NP and ultimately the park border would be with the help of a semi-fence towards the village. In some areas agricultural fields and small settlements would need to be relocated.
  • The current environmental damage has taken place and we have to act fast.
  • The ‘poached’ buffer zone has to be reinstalled and declared a wildlife conservancy, or similar, for immediate protection.
  • There are various samples of ‘living fences’ from bee hives, trees that act as fences, and natural pesticides etc. for wildlife and agricultural fields to benefit equally.
  • These fences create their own biotope.

Minister is there a way for communities adjacent to Tanzania’s National Park to benefit from the protected land? Can the protection of wildlife become a direct income for communities?

YOUTUBE video clip from Namibia to show community based natural resource management and coexistence

The Guardians

Our proposed solutions...

Is the solution for the land around the NP which is claimed as the buffer zone to stay village land?

AND therefore should the land be rented by the government and private stakeholders in tourism from the village for the community to directly benefit and learn about the conservation of natural resources for the next generations to survive?

The various tourism establishments around a buffer zone will immediately benefit from the protected wilderness, they can contribute towards the rent to the village, and this will create job opportunities and support the general well being and social system of the community surrounding the NP.

The NP itself will benefit through a layer of extra protection and more beds equal more visitors and less labour to be involved in anti poaching and controlling. It could be all in all a win-win situation and that is what we are striving for.

We could start right here with the Arusha National Park & Momella.

The old Momella Lodge could be converted into the centre, academy, museum etc. where the generation of tomorrow learn and understand why we are losing our key species and why we desperately need our key species alive in order for the entire ecosystem to survive!!!

The current wildlife meadow (see below picture) should be a live sample showcasing the importance of keeping a wild habitat for wildlife.

A huge lake could attract the wildlife and a living fence would protect the wildlife. The traditional wildlife and elephant corridors towards West Kilimanjaro and towards the border in Maasailand need to be identified and reopened and fenced. I certainly believe that these fences can create their own biotope which will be only useful for the communities and animals living around the fences.

We can not only focus on education and support of the local communities through a better social system if we can not protect their main income - tourism. If there is no more wildlife left in Tanzania, the future will look dull and an industry feeding millions will collapse, placing poverty at its peak with a war for other natural resources at hand.

For all of the above ventures and endeavours we need support:

  • With the legal framework
  • Heavy fund raising
  • And specialised know how.

The Sparkling Elephant Project - Awareness & Education Project - Nature for kids cinema on wheels - leads the way!

We've already started with our awareness and educational campaigns - last year!!! We sparked the sensitivity among the tour operators as most have been oblivious to the fact that we are actually losing our key species by the minute. TATO asked us to join forces and start a committee to organise the global march for elephants. Our project, The ‘Sparkling Elephant’ was leading the way. Now our ‘Mwalimu’ elephant is at the Cultural Heritage waiting to be completely dressed in recycled beads. Mwalimu is a monument against the ivory trade and the poaching crisis and will be moved to the Serengeti Visitors Centre, passing through villages while en route campaigning to create further awareness. This elephant will be covered in at least 400 000 recycled beads - each bead to represent one elephant ‘life’ in Africa.

Mwalimu the elephant will also be part of Raabia’s march in June.

We are now looking into joining forces with the ‘Nature for Kids’ organisation from Holland to open an office in Moshi so that we can work on a mobile cinema to present their films in various villages in Kiswahili followed by little educational workshops.

Introduction Nature for Kids

The ‘IVORY for Elephants!’ movie campaign - July 2014

We are looking to start a fund-raising for the making of the movie under the ‘IVORY for elephants!’ movie campaign in Germany this coming July. The movie will concentrate on the fact: Why do we lose elephants and why do we need elephants? Each of the nature for kid’s movies has a solution: Our solution would be the support of coexistence and the set up of an ‘Ark’ in Momella combined with a conservation centre.

The Mokolodi Wildlife Reserve

Dr. Ian Khama set up something similar in Botswana:

The Mokolodi Wildlife Reserve

Lazaro, can we follow the same steps and be the East African leaders in wildlife conservation?

We are now eagerly looking forward to your visit. You can count on our continued support so please let us know if we can count on your support concerning the legal framework in converting the Momella meadow into Tanzania’s first wildlife conservancy.