Mission: Pre-feasibility Study of the Ruvuma Ecological Reserve
Date: 14 August 2008
Requesting organisation: Selous-Niassa Wildlife Protection Corridor Project
Location: Ruvuma Ecological Reserve, Zambia
Pilot: Chris Rattray
The Selous-Niassa Survey, by Wayne Lotter
The Bateleurs was contacted by Wayne Lotter, Natural Resources Manager and International Team Leader of the Selous-Niassa Wildlife Protection Corridor Project, who asked us to provide aerial assistance for a pre-feasibility study of the Ruvuma Ecological Reserve.
The Selous-Niassa Wildlife Protection Corridor Project will link the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania with the Niassa Game Reserve in Mocambique. The total area is vast, encompassing over 8 million ha, and it includes the biggest Wild dog and the biggest elephant (80 000) populations in Africa. The project is largely community-based and is being implemented in partnership with the Tanzanian government.
Bateleurs pilot Chris Rattray volunteered for this complex mission and flew his Cessna 182 to Zambia to participate in the pre-feasibility exercise regarding the inclusion of the Ruvuma Ecological reserve. We have included here some extracts from the detailed report submitted by Wayne – the full report is available on request.
The Selous-Niassa Survey, by Wayne Lotter
Bateleurs pilot Chris Rattray (left) and Wayne Lotter crossing the Ruvuma river.
“On 8 August 2008 an aerial survey was conducted in order to assess the status quo of the proposed Ruvuma Ecological Reserve area in terms of its integrity, potential and the extent of which it is continuous (intact and natural) or interrupted. A pilot with his Cessna 182 was kindly made available by The Bateleurs.
The survey team comprised Eberhard Halla,Community & Environmental Officer, Tunduru District Council; Wayne Lotter, International Team Leader, Selous-Niassa Wildlife Protection Corridor Project; Krissie Clark, ecologist; and Chris Rattray, Bateleurs pilot.
Four transects were flown over the proposed Ruvuma Ecological Reserve area (Figure 3). The land cover and land use on either side of the plane within a 2 nautical mile band on the transect line was noted at regular intervals by the survey team.
In order to investigate the viability of establishing of the proposed Ruvuma Ecological Reserve, and to determine whether the proposed sub-contracting of services to undertake a more in depth feasibility study is really required, a preliminary assessment and aerial survey was conducted to assess:
* the status quo of the area;
* the ecological integrity of the area; and
* the suitability of formalising the area as a WMA.
This report highlights the finding of the preliminary assessment and aerial survey."
Chris's aircraft had to be refuelled with petrol as there as no avgas to be found - anywhere.
"It is recommended that the following be considered by the major stakeholders of the SNWPC:
* Not to carry out the detailed, primarily biological diversity, survey of the target area as outlined in the May 2005 Feasibility Assessment and in the February 2008 SNWPC Project Operational Plan.
* To conduct a study on the feasibility of establishing the area as a WMA, or including it as a part of one of the planned WMAs in the south eastern area of the SNWPC. The conservation protection of this area would help link the SNWPC ecologically with a larger section of the Niassa National Reserve and with the Mwambesi Forest Reserve and possibly further to the Eastern Selous-Niassa Corridor which is being established by WWF Tanzania.
* Should the establishment of the area as a WMA not prove viable, to then investigate the possibility of including as much of the area as possible as a proclaimed extension to the existing Mwambesi Forest Reserve.
The proposed WMA feasibility study should be conducted as soon as possible, while the Selous - Niassa Wildlife Protection Corridor Project is still in full swing and is in a position to possibly support recommendations emanating from the study.”
The SNWPC Project would like sincerely to thank The Bateleurs and in particular their pilot, Chris Rattray, and ecologist Ms. Krissie Clark (Game Rangers Association of Africa) for their expert assistance and for the aircraft made available for conducting the preliminary aerial survey and assessment of the proposed Ruvuma Ecological Reserve, at zero charge to the project.”