Wildlife experts urged to diversify conservation priorities

07Dec 2017
Edward Qorro
The Guardian
Wildlife experts urged to diversify conservation priorities

WILDLIFE researchers and scientists in the country have been called upon to diversify their research areas and priorities to take on board issues of socio-economic development and climate change.

Natural Resources and Tourism Deputy Minister Japhet Hasunga

Natural Resources and Tourism Deputy Minister Japhet Hasunga urged the wildlife experts to consider investing in understanding impacts of socio-economic activities to wildlife conservation and come up with scientific ways of mitigating climatic change impacts.

The deputy minister also challenged the experts to strike the right balance between providing for human livelihoods whilst maintaining the ecological integrity of important wildlife ecosystems.

“I understand that most of the long term research work has concentrated in famous protected areas in northern parts of the country and largely on some groups of animals or subjects, I therefore, kindly request you to diversify your efforts to less studied but biodi-verse areas such as the Selous, Ruaha-Rungwa and Katavi-Rukwa ecosystems,” explained the deputy minister yesterday while opening the 11th Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) conference here.

The deputy minister assured the 300 wildlife experts who convened for the conference that his office had initiated a six year’s project worth $150million through the REGROW initiative that among other things, seeks to promote wildlife conservation and tourism in the southern tourism circuit.

According to Hasunga, the funds will be used to put in place infrastructure development for research facilities such as housing and mini labs in the Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park.

“It is my hope that once completed, these facilities will promote research undertakings in the aforementioned at affordable cost as it is the case in other areas like within the Serengeti National Park,” said the minister.

He further challenged the 300 wildlife researchers and scientists to explore on the future for natural resources outside protected areas given the escalating human population and to find out how existing wildlife policies and legislative issues help attain effective conservation.

Earlier on, TAWIRI Board Chairperson Professor Apolinaria Pereka notified the deputy minister on the increase in number of Tanzanian wildlife researchers and scientists in the country.

According to Prof Pereka, the number of the local researchers had doubled in the last four years; from 125(2012/13) to 212 in 2016/17, underscoring the need to equip the research institution in terms of equipment and funding.

“The institute requires more support to enable it fulfill its mandate given the vast amount of work ahead of us,” she said.

Prof Pereka added that at the moment, TAWIRI depended on support from foreign donors, leading to difficulties in implementing research priorities.

At total of 167 oral and 19 poster presentations will be presented and discussed during the three day conference.