The Chief of Serengeti
The Serengeti National Park has had a number of Chief Park Wardens over the years, but perhaps none as approachable as William Mwakilema. Always donning a smile, the Chief has a visible presence and is a wonderful partner to work with. With over 170,000 international visitors annually and an area of 14,763 square kilometres, the Serengeti is a large project to oversee. While his job is not easy, he works diligently to ensure the Serengeti will be a prime destination for decades to come.
Laura Borner spoke with Chief Park Warden, Mr. William Mwakilema
What are the biggest challenges you are currently addressing in Serengeti National Park?
The two biggest challenges to the park at the moment are threats posed by poaching and illegal cattle grazing and secondly encroachment by agricultural activities along the park boundaries.
What have been your largest achievements in the past year?
Over the past year we have focused heavily on poaching, and were successful in reducing the number of elephant poaching incidences in the park.
What do you find to be the main attraction for tourists?
The Serengeti is incredibly unique for many reasons. It is still a large intact ecosystem with a huge area of unspoiled wilderness. One of the main reasons people visit is to see the wildebeest migration. This makes Serengeti a very special place.
Can you talk more about the security plan and its importance?
The new security plan has identified the critical needs of our protection department. It’s
importance lies in prioritization of critical needs that address major challenges faced by the park.
In brief, what are the future hopes for tourism in Serengeti?
The future of Serengeti National Park depends on achieving a balance between visitor use and conservation.
Having lived in the SNP now a couple years, how do you enjoy your time spent in this beautiful place?
Working in Serengeti is highly challenging, however, I enjoy being among the chosen few who have the privilege of working in this world-class national park.
Have you brought your children to the park to visit?
I have brought them several times and they love seeing the wild animals in their natural environment. In general, you can see the children love the overall beauty of the park.
In ten years, how do you see SNP from a global viewpoint?
The park will continue to attract more visitors. Therefore we have to make some difficult decisions to ensure that the high visitation does not spoil this place. We must devise mechanisms to ensure we receive high returns for fewer visitations.
The interview was first published in the Gorilla Magazin, Serengeti Edition 2014. Have a look at our publications in English language.