Exclusive reserve ends dispute over ‘basic agreements’

An exclusive game reserve — where lodge stays can cost upwards of $1,270 USD per person per night — has agreed to end a years long dispute with the local Wildlife Management Area. Photo: contributed

An exclusive game reserve bordering Serengeti National Park has agreed to settle a years long dispute with the local Wildlife Management Area (WMA) which ensures local villages are involved in decision making and receive a share of benefits from tourism.

Earlier this month the WMA closed roads and blocked Grumeti Reserves Limited from accessing the area, prompting Grumeti to agree to pay Ikona WMA 1.36 billion TSH ($600,000 USD) in exchange for a new commitment on governing operations and activities in the WMA.

Grumeti says they stopped paying the Ikona WMA three years ago over a ‘dispute’ about the WMA violating ‘some of the initial basic agreements.’

“[Ikona WMA] invited some investors within the area while failing to comply with basic Environmental Impact Assessment, forcing us to suspend paying them,” says Grumeti’s relationship manager Ami Seki.

“We are thrilled that today we have finally put the wrangles behind us. We would be happy to see the WMA wisely putting the money to use,” says Seki, who challenged Ikona WMA to use the funds to improve the lives of the villagers in the five villages they represent.

Ikona WMA’s chairperson Elias Chama says the payment has given them a new lease on life and ensured the money will be put to good use.

Fifty percent of the money is to be split among the five villages, Robanda, Nyichoka, Makundusi-Nyakitono, Park-Nyigoti and Natta-Mbisso.

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