By: Correspondent James Lanka, Moshi.
Kilimanjaro National Park (KINAPA) one of the 16 national parks in The country which is under the Tanzania National Parka (TANAPA) is exploring strategies to maximally exploit tourist potentials of the tallesttree in Africa, found in Kilimanjaro region.
Speaking during the regional leaders’ tour of the tree at Mrusunga, Kidia area led by the Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner, Saidi Mecky Sadiki accompanied by the Moshi district Commissioner, Kippi Warioba, KINAPA Chief Park Warden Bertita Loibooki, he said that, the unique tree has the potentials of attracting more tourists.Loibooki said here that having around the tree which is 81.5 metres is a tourism millage, noting that KINAPA will conserve it by any means possible to enable people from different corners of the world to see it.
“We boast to have this tree in our park and we are going to use it as one of our tools to promote Mount Kilimanjaro, get more tourists and revenues,” she said. She further noted that it takes about 2:30 hour walk from Tema village to that area where the Kilimanjaro RC, Said Meck Sadiki, Moshi District Commissioner (DC), Kippi Warioba and other officials had to use both feet and hands to negotiate the way to the area due to the steep hills, valleys and rivers they had to cross over; she praised the role played by Dr. Andreas Hemp and his beloved wife, Claudia.
Last year , Researchers exploring a remote valley on the mountain (two hours walk from Mrusunga forest in Kidia ward, Moshi rural district), discovered towering tree that reaches 81.5 metres onto the sky; and that makes a new record for the tallesttree on the entire Continent of Africa.
Explaining to the Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner, SaidiMeckySadiki and his delegates including the Kilimanjaro National Park (KINAPA) high ranking officials and journalists from various media who visited the ‘new tourist attraction in the Mt. Kilimanjaro’s buffer zone, the researcher Dr. Andreas Hemp, accompanied by his wife Claudia said that, the giant specimen is a Entandrophragmaexcelsum, a rare species that is typically found in upland semi-deciduous forest, and it might be over 600 years old.
“We first noted the mammoth size of some of the valley’s trees during an expedition 20 years ago, but the location’s remoteness kept the true height of its vegetation a secret until we recently found our way back here…” explained.Dr. Hemp.
“The Record-breaking tree is still significantly shorter than the World’s tallest tree-a coastal redwood in Northern California which is over 116 metres high. Africa is not a continent typically known for its towering trees” he said.
He added that, the trees in the valley are nurtured by rich volcanic soils, high temperatures and higher-than-normal levels of precipitation, which undoubtedly helps them to reach great heights. ‘They are a city in the forest,’ described Dr. Andreas Hemp; advising the government of Tanzania to preserve them for the next generation.
He added that their isolated location helps them to grow well as they are relatively safe from logging activities that have decimated in forest habitat elsewhere. The grove of the trees lies outside the borders of Kilimanjaro National Park (KINAPA) in Mbokomu and Uru wards, in Moshi rural district, Kilimanjaro region, which means they are still vulnerable; but their discovery needs the park expansion that encompasses the grove and keeps the trees safe.
“The colossus has matched Africa’s previous tree-height record established by a specimen of the introduced Sydney blue gum (Eucalyptus saligna) in Limpopo, South Africa, which died in 2006..” he further explained.
Dr. Hemp, who is a Researcher at the University of Byreuth in Germany first spotted a bunch of tall Entandrophragmaexcelsumtrees while exploring Mt. Kilimanjaro’s vegetation 20 years ago, but it was until recently he and his team were able to measure their heights accurately using new tools.
“We sized 32 specimens with laser instruments between 2012 and 2016, finding that the 10 tallest individuals ranged from 59.2 81.5 meters in height and 0.98 to 2.55 metres in diameter.” he explained.
Hemp estimates from growth rates that the arboreal behemoths are between 500 to 600 years old. According to him, the world’s tallesttrees are not normally found in Africa; for example, a 116-metre-tall tree grows in North America, and a 100-metre-tall eucalyptus in Australia.
“My appeal to you is to protect and conserve the environment in this conservation area, as there are also different specimen of endemic spicies..” he insisted
On his part Moshi District Commissioner, Mr.Kippi Warioba pledged to discuss with the Moshi district council to renovate the road that links Mbokomu – Kidia to boost tourism in the area.