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Zoba Gash Barka: Land of Palm Trees and Elephants(Part V and Final)

The prospect of the Zoba Gash Barka in terms of tourism industry mainly depends on its eye catching landscape like that of the chain of mountains at Mulki and its surrounding and the vast plain lands of Gash and Barka, the vast and modern agricultural land of Gerset, the two Fancos, Afhimbol and Moreover, the wild life and birds that are found in every place of the region and more importantly the elephants that are found only in the region. The government of Eritrea realizing the importance of the wild life and especially elephants to the much expected future growth of tourism industry in the region has set a vast land along the Gash and Setit Rivers as a national reserve for the elephants and other wild animals. The national reserve is bounded by the Gash River in the north and the Setit River in the south. The area falls within the arid lowlands Agro-Ecological zone, characterized by a hot and arid climate with temperature ranging from 21 to 41 Celsius in an elevation of 1000-1500m.

The mean annual rainfall is 200- 400 and very erratic. Distribution both between seasons and within a rainy season is not consistent and varies from year to year. The major rainy season lasts from June to August although occasionally showers occur in the month of April. The vegetation of the area is characterized by Acaciazizyphus woodlands interspersed with baobab whilst dense Doum Palm groves are found along the river. The area is endowed

The area harbors a good number of wild life species including African elephants, greater Kudu, red fronted gazelle, dorcas gazelle warthog, water duck and others. Bird life of the area is particularly rich. African elephants in Eritrea are the most northern range in the continent, their population shows climbing up.Setit River flows throughout the year and it is crucial for the existence of elephants in this most northern limit of African elephant range in the continent. Further to the south on the border with Ethiopia the Setit river valley with its baobab trees, doum palms and tamarix trees is an area of extraordinary natural beauty thus provides recreation and pleasure to tourists.

Especially to those who love adventure and admire wild life in their natural habitat, not in zoos. Tourism and biodiversity has comparative relationship. Well managed biodiversity has great attraction of tourism.
Therefore, to ensure the continuation of our biodiversity mutually with development of tourism industry, proper tourism management is paramount important. Negative impacts of tourism vary according to the nature and number of tourists, the type of physical facilities and the way tourism is managed. The individual tourist normally has a relatively small impact. Problems arise, however, if the number of tourists is large or the resource overused.
Thus although tourism can be a productive source of revenue for a country, if it is not properly managed, it can also represent a cause of serious damage to the environment in general and to biodiversity in particular. Tourism impacts on the environment are manifold: impacts on geological exposure, mineral and fossils on soils, on water resources, on vegetation and on animal life, on the cultural environment and aesthetic impact of landscape.

These different impacts which are the manifestation of change on environment rarely occur and their ecological impact are usually very damaging. (Source: Mr. Fitsum Hagos, wild life conservation expert, MOA)
The above mentioned precautions need serious attention in our endeavors to promote the tourism industry in our country. To date tourism in our country is at its infancy. And problems that come with tourism are very minimal. The Zoba Gash Barka we toured as it is rich in all aspects for tourism industry development; there are also a great deal of efforts that need be exerted including the availability of hotels and other facilities that could attract both local and international tourist.

There is also an urgent need of recruiting people that could explain the history and the back ground of all the areas that we aspire they could attract tourism.
The explanation should be to the point as far as possible, not adding facts that were not on the ground and not undermine the real history. Zoba Anseba, with its antic and beautiful Keren, was the next destination of the tour participants.

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