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Mammals in Mtanga: Notes on Ha and Bembe Ethnomammalogy in a Village Bordering Gombe Stream National Park, Western Tanzania

Mammals in Mtanga: Notes on Ha and Bembe Ethnomammalogy in a Village Bordering Gombe Stream National Park, Western Tanzania

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Published by Martin Walsh
Notes by Martin Walsh on local knowledge and attitudes to mammals, including chimpanzees, in a village bordering Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. Citation: Walsh, M. T. 1997.Mammals in Mtanga: Notes on Ha and Bembe Ethnomammalogy in a Village Bordering Gombe Stream National Park, Western Tanzania. Paper prepared for the Lake Tanganyika Biodiversity Project (Pollution Control and Other Measures to Protect Biodiversity in Lake Tanganyika), Dar es Salaam. Kigoma: LTBP.
Notes by Martin Walsh on local knowledge and attitudes to mammals, including chimpanzees, in a village bordering Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. Citation: Walsh, M. T. 1997.Mammals in Mtanga: Notes on Ha and Bembe Ethnomammalogy in a Village Bordering Gombe Stream National Park, Western Tanzania. Paper prepared for the Lake Tanganyika Biodiversity Project (Pollution Control and Other Measures to Protect Biodiversity in Lake Tanganyika), Dar es Salaam. Kigoma: LTBP.

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Published by: Martin Walsh on Apr 06, 2009
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 Lake Tanganyika Biodiversity Project
Pollution Control and Other Measures to Protect Biodiversityin Lake Tanganyika (RAF/92/G32)
Socio-economic Special Studies - Tanzania
MAMMALS IN MTANGA
 Notes on Ha and Bembe Ethnomammalogy in a Village borderingGombe Stream National Park, Western Tanzania
Martin Walsh
Natural Resources Institute, Chatham
KigomaJanuary 1997
 
MAMMALS IN MTANGA
 Notes on Ha and Bembe Ethnomammalogy in a Village bordering Gombe Stream National Park, Western Tanzania.
Martin WalshIntroduction
The following notes on local knowledge of mammals in Mtanga are based uponinformation gathered during an action research exercise, which was conducted in thevillage on 13-18 January 1997. This information was recorded in the context of discussions about the history of environmental impacts in Mtanga and relationsbetween the village and the neighbouring Gombe Stream National Park (the overallfindings of this research will be presented in the final report of the exercise). Nosystematic attempt was made to collect ethnomammalogical data, there beinginsufficient time to do so. These notes should therefore be treated as no more than astarting point for future work of this kind, should it ever be undertaken.
Key informants
Most of the information recorded below was provided by two informants, one anative Ha speaker and the other a native Bembe speaker. Interviews were conductedin Swahili, both informants being good second-language speakers of the nationallanguage and local
lingua franca
. Further background information on these two keyinformants and the context of the interviews is given below.(1)
 
OB = Omari Bulio, a Ha speaker aged c.80 years, was interviewed by the authoron a number of occasions on four consecutive days, 15-18 January 1997. MzeeBulio was born in Kalinzi, and left when he was about 10 years old, following hisfather, who was the founder of Mtanga and its first chief (
umutwale
, 1/2). He wastherefore one of the first Ha settlers in Mtanga, arriving at a time (in the mid-late1920s) before the original forests had been cleared. He later succeeded his father asthe
umutwale
of Mtanga, and after Tanganyika’s independence in 1961 became thefirst village chairman. Further background information on him can be found in theaccompanying
Preliminary Glossary of Ha Plant Names
. Notes on Haethnoherpetology from the same informant are included in the companion paper
Snakes and other 
 
 Reptiles in Mtanga
(see the references at the end of this paper).Most of the interviews with him took place at his home in Mtanga “A” sub-village,and during them various other household members and passers-by contributed to ourdiscussions.(2)
 
KB = Kamili Barabara, a Bembe speaker, was interviewed in Kazinga sub-villageon 16 January 1997. He was born in Mlimba-Kasaba on (what is now) the Zairean1
 
coast of Lake Tanganyika, and crossed the lake with his father, AnzaruniMlondachano, when the latter led other members of their clan (the Basitambwe) toseek a new life on the eastern shore (the main motive for this migration being toescape the iniquities of Belgian colonial rule). The main group of migrants firstsettled in Ngerwe (in the valley immediately south of Kazinga) in 1950 – among anexisting community of Rundi migrants. In 1952 they moved north to Kazinga, whichhad hitherto been only the site of temporary fishing camps. Gombe Stream GameReserve was already in existence at this time, while the hills between Ngerwe and thereserve boundary (just north of Kazinga) were largely covered with virgin forest.His father, the founder of the Bembe settlement at Kazinga, died at the start of the1980s. Mzee Barabara himself became the chairman of Kazinga sub-village in 1995,a position he still holds. Our interview took place in the open in the centre of Kazinga (eavesdroppers were asked to move on), and ranged over a wide variety of topics, including the history of settlement, land use, and relations with theneighbouring reserve and park.Unfortunately it was not possible in the time available to interview any Rundispeakers, although they also comprise an important component in the population of Mtanga, including Kazinga sub-village (where 12 of the 54 households are Rundi).
 Local variation
It should be noted that there are important differences in the perceptions of wildlifebetween the residents of Kazinga and those in the main centre of Mtanga to thesouth. This is not just a reflection of ethnic differences (there are, after all, manyBembe also living at the other end of the village), but of the fact that Kazinga bordersthe national park and is visited more frequently by animals which live and breed inGombe. The forests in the centre and south of Mtanga were cleared at a much earlierdate (from the late-1920s onwards) and the hills there provide a refuge for fewerspecies. The park impinges much more directly on the lives of Kazinga’s inhabitantsthan it does on those of other villagers. The reverse is also reputed to be true, and itis rumoured that Kazinga harbours a number of poachers. Given the short timeallotted to fieldwork and the kinds of interviews conducted, it was not possible toconfirm this rumour (which derives from external sources), though it was admittedthat women from Kazinga have been caught cutting firewood within the park. Itmight be added that despite the fact that wild animals are more scarce to the south of Kazinga and the park boundary, hunting is still a viable activity in the hills, andcarried out by Ha boys and young men among others.
 Identification of species
The referents of most Ha and Bembe mammal names were relatively easy todetermine, especially when their Swahili names were known and they could bechecked against the list of ‘Larger Mammals of Gombe Stream National Park’ whichis included in the park guide (Bygott 1992: 64). The English and scientific names of mammals given in the guide have been corrected to conform with those employed in2

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