FZS Team welcomes German President Joachim Gauck to Serengeti
During their Tanzania-visit, German President Joachim Gauck and First Lady Daniela Schadt payed a short visit to Serengeti National Park today.
Seronera, Tanzania (5 Feb 2015): President Gauck and First Lady Daniela Schadt only had about three hours to see one of the most spectacular national parks in the world: the Serengeti. Even though they only saw a tiny fraction of this huge wilderness area, the President and the First Lady were deeply impressed by what they saw, and by the wildlife they encountered.
This was the first time a German President visited Serengeti National Park, a park that is in many ways closely linked to Germany. In 1959, Bernhard Grzimek brought both the Serengeti and the threats it faces to the attention of the global public. In the decades that followed, Grzimek, together with former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere, established Serengeti National Park and a conservation ethos in Tanzania.
Close cooperation between Germany and Tanzania
For five decades, Frankfurt Zoological Society has worked in partnership with Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) to conserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, as a new poaching crisis emerges in Africa, FZS (with support from KfW and German Cooperation) continues to support TANAPA in strengthening park security and wildlife protection. In addition, by collaborating with communities living around the park, FZS works to address the root causes of threats to the Serengeti ecosystem.
In his speech President Gauck recognised these efforts: There have always been poachers, said Gauck, but Serengeti, “this gift for all mankind” needed to be protected by any means necessary. Within the boundaries of applicable law, all means available should be employed. “We need effective control mechanisms in order to make sure that ivory and rhinos are not shipped out of the country in barrels. If we can help developing these mechanisms, why shouldn’t we do that?” Gauck remarked.
Practical anti-poaching support
On the occasion of the President’s visit, FZS Executive Director Dr Christof Schenck ceremonially handed over the newly built Operations Centre to TANAPA Director General Alan Kijazi. This building was constructed by FZS with financial support from the German government, and will act as the nerve centre for monitoring and coordination of anti-poaching operations in the park.
With his visit, President Gauck recognises the importance of Serengeti as one of the most significant natural wonders of the world, a flagship of Tanzania’s natural heritage, and an important economic driver of the country.