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History

More Information
Go to the Mkomazi Web Site
Introduction
History
Rhino Sanctuary
African Wild Dog Breeding Program
Protection from Poachers and Livestock Encroachment
Mkomazi Outreach Programme
USA TODAY Articles, March 1999
1999 Newsletter
A native of Great Britain, Fitzjohn joined George Adamson in his work at the Kora National Reserve in Kenya in 1971. Adamson, who was killed by poachers in 1989, is known worldwide through the book and film "Born Free". Together, Fitzjohn and Adamson successfully reintroduced captive and orphaned lions and leopards into the wild, whilst simultaneously undertaking the management of Kora National Reserve.

After Adamson's death, Fitzjohn decided to find a new home for the conservation work. At the same time, the Tanzanian Govemment began to focus its attention on the Mkomazi Game Reserve to save the remaining wildlife still living there. By this time, Mkomazi had become badly degraded. Poaching, overgrazing, deliberate burning and badly controlled illegal hunting had all taken their toll. After traveling to many game reserves and national parks in Tanzania, Fitzjohn decided, in a joint venture with the Tanzanian Govemment, to begin a program of habitat rehabilitation and endangered species reintroduction in the Mkomazi Game Reserve. Mkomazi is now a Tanzanian National Priority Project, with full government support.

Tony Fitzgerald with wild dogs On October 10, 1988, the previous Director of the Wildlife Department wrote to the Tony Fitzjohn/George Adamson Trust, formally requesting its assistance. With the later promotion of Mr. Costa Mlay to the position of Director, the request was repeated. The Trustees agreed to help in any way possible, and supported the idea that Fitzjohn should embark on a rehabilitation program to reintroduce the African Wild Dog, Cheetah, and Black Rhino into the Reserve.

By 1992, Fitzjohn and the Wildlife Department's Project Manager had made great progress in re-establishing the Reserve's infrastructure -- bore holes had been sunk, the communication system was installed, uniformed rangers were regularly in the field, camp had been built, and the reserve's headquarters improved. Over 250 miles of roads had been carved, three airstrips were in use with an aircraft flying daily, boundaries for the reserve had been recleared, and water holes desilled.

The results of the hard work are ultimately measured by the health of the Reserve. The vegetation has started to recover from 15 years of over-use by cattle and goats. Many of the indigenous species have returned. The Mkomazi Game Reserve will never have the teeming herds of some of the great plains areas, but already there is a healthy population of lesser kudu, oryx, eland, and impala. Buffalo, zebra, giraffe and kongoni have been found in increasing numbers in the grasslands. In the summer of 1994, nearly 1,000 elephants were counted, including a herd of breeding females with their young.


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