Mysterious animal spotted in Serengeti
A mysterious animal has been spotted in the Serengeti National Park and the strange creature is baffling experts regarding its origin or species.
The mammal was first seen in Serengeti plains last October by tourists who tried to take its picture but without much success.
As news spread, more visitors went around looking for the animal and eventually a frequent traveller, Mr Robert Berntsen managed to capture a shot of what is now known as the ‘Serengeti enigma.’
The Communications Manager of the Tanzania National Parks Authority, Mr Paschal Shelutete, admitted it was strange news and rather peculiar development in one of the country’s largest parks.
He, however, promised to have zoological and wildlife experts go round in search of the creature. “We will then decide whether it is indeed a new species of animal or a case of biological mutation and deformation,” he stated.
The creature can easily pass like a gazelle, but on closer inspection it spots a much larger, camel-shaped head which is covered in thick, hairy-fur like a lion’s mane.
From far the animal also resembles a wildebeest, in fact, Mr Paolo Torchio who was the first person to spot the creature almost dismissed it as a young ungulate left behind by its herd.
The ongoing debate among people who have so far managed to have a glimpse of the ‘Serengeti Enigma’ or the only photos taken by the traveller, Mr Berntsen is whether it is a new species of gazelle, a hybrid of some kind, precisely crossing between a wildebeest and the former or maybe a mutation.
While observers haven’t been able to reach any conclusion and local experts are yet to start studying the mysterious animal, Mr Shelutete believes the discovery will soon be driving packs of tourists, researchers and other curious observers to Tanzania to witness the discovery.
When Mr Berntsen took its picture last November, the animal was near a group of Thomson’s gazelles, though on the “outskirts.” After discussion, Berntsen and his travelling partners decided that most likely the animal was a ‘mutant Thomson’s gazelle, probably a young male.’
However, he observes “this explanation was just concluded on what we had seen while eliminating other explanations we found less probable.” Mr Berntsen claims to have studied the strange creature for about ten minutes and managed to describe its unique features.
He said its head had a lot of dark long hair which obstructed the true form of its head and mouth. “All my pictures are showing the animal from its left side, but observing the head from the front it seems to be significantly broader than with a normal gazelle.
In addition I had the impression that it had an undershot jaw. Perhaps this impression was caused by the thickness of the lower lips or the tissue in the chin or the general prominence of the cheeks and the chin.”
Mr Berntsen also noticed extremely enlarged blood vessels on the animal’s head, though again he figured out this could also have been an illusion caused by its thick hair twinned together. The animal was clearly a loner, grazing in solace all the two times that the two travellers saw it.
During his turn, Mr Berntsen saw the enigma on a grass patch but close by there was also a number of healthy cheetahs, including a well-fed mother with six cubs, which, according to him, may not bode well for the mysterious animal.
“Cheetahs are very good at seeing gazelles with any kind of problems, so I believe our special gazelle would have a high risk of falling victim to one of the many predators looking for a meal if it should have any problem in moving or running.”
Tourism set to boom as Asia market opens
THE tourism sector is bound to soar following intensified efforts to reach the previously unexplored huge Asian market, with different players there keen to visiting the country's abundant tourist destinations, the government has announced.
The minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Ezekiel Maige said in Dar es Salaam on Thursday that his recent three-day visit to India mid last month was very successful, saying already an Indian based airline has agreed to establish regular flights between Delhi and Dar es Salaam.
"I spoke to different organizations and discovered that existing travel complications that required several connections before reaching Dar es Salaam was the major setback.
"In this regard I had audience with the proprietors of Jet Airways company and agreed to start the processes to secure Landing Permits from the Tanzania Aviation Authority," the minister explained.
The Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) was assigned to co-ordinate the process and make sure that the idea becomes practical before end of this year. Once approved the route would operate Delhi-Dar es Salaam-Johannesburg-Delhi route.
Other tourist avenues previously not given emphasis, said the minister, included Conference Tourism. He said when launched this would allow companies like Sun Pharmaceutical Limited with 12,000 employees the world over organize kind of a family day, bringing a million members of staff to Tanzania on the third week of July, this year.
"Film-Making Tourism is another path that Tanzania will take to advertise the tourist destinations more efficiently than ever.
For example, I invited Bollywood celebrity and the former Miss India Beauty Queen, Randeen Arya to come to Tanzania to prepare TV programmes to advertise the country's tourist vibrancy in India and beyond," Mr Maige said.
The minister said he held discussion with the management of two film making companies known as Travel Masters Indian Corporation (TMIC) and Yash Raj Films, well-known in preparation of musical movies from different continents and help advertise individual country's tourist destinations.
"Both companies agreed to send representatives next week to visit various attraction centres and indentify suitable places for film shooting. Through our diplomatic office in India we (government) will identify a Goodwill ambassador to make the industry known world over," he explained.
The Minister's official visit to India also opened others doors for Medical Tourism, having met with the administration of Fortis Hospital, the second largest hospital in India capable of handling complicated surgical categories.
He said the hospital has agreed to open a Diagnosis centre in Dar es Salaam and that official communication with Health ministry would be initiated accordingly.
On the significance of the strategy chosen to advertise the country's tourist potential, the minister who was flanked by the Acting Permanent Secretary, Dr Donatius Kamamba, Human Resource Director Mr Abdulrahman Mdimu and Director for Tourism, Dr Ibrahim Mussa said it would result into more positive results than attending a short-lived exhibition.
He said through TV programmes and films the Tanzania tourism industry would be known far and beyond and distribution of DVDs would reach different corners of the world.
"More visitors would surely come for increased revenue for the benefit of the nation," he concluded.
By BILHAM KIMATI