The US has pledged to continue supporting the Tanzanian government in improving its wildlife areas so as to protect life of animals and increase community’s livelihood.
This was said here on Tuesday by the US Department of Interior deputy secretary David Hayes when handing over the Burunge Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) visitor Centre to the government.
The centre was funded by the US government through its agency for international development (USAID) and handed over to Natural Resources and Tourism minister Khamis Kagasheki on behalf of Burunge community.
Hayes said wildlife conservation plays a crucial role in social and economic development and there is a need to have collaborative efforts to protect it.
“We are going to cooperate with you in this area, so that all people living around the reserved areas are engaged in protection of animals and benefit,” he said.
Citing, he said in the US, the wildlife department has contributed to the development of the economy and created employment activities.
He said last year the sector generated USD650bn and created over 6million jobs so there was a need for the Tanzanian government to utilise it more efficiently.
"My department, the US department of Interior is entrusted with the management of natural and cultural resources and making good on the US government’s commitments to indigenous communities,” he said.
He added that within their borders they work continuously to strike the appropriate balance between conservation and responsible use of natural resources that fuel their development.
“We have learned that full and strong support of local communities is available in abundance when people can see and taste enjoyable tangible real benefits from protected areas,” he said.
However he cautioned that the potential of continued success of the WMA is threatened by the spike in illegal wildlife poaching across the country.
Local communities are first line of defence against terrible threat, you have to face down poachers and must be vigilant against anything that might undermine what you have been to achieve,” he said.
For his part, Minister Kagasheki, thanked the US government for it support towards improvement of wildlife management in Tanzania.
He said the government has been taking various measures to fight illegal animal poaching which now has become rampant.
"We are committed to end poaching in Tanzania in various ways for the benefit of the government and communities,” he said
He said the government understand the enormity of the problem and will ensure poachers do not win in the battle.
Speaking earlier, the US Ambassador to Tanzania, Alfonso Lenhardt’s said the local communities living around national parks need to see a direct benefit from their stewardship which benefits the entire nation.
He said with Tanzania’s unique richness in wildlife and natural resources, its management has since become among the most important approach that communities can use to capture benefits at the same time conserving their resources.
For his part, chairperson of Burunge WMA Ramadhani Ismail, urged the government not to delay paying their money earned in wildlife activities.
“This is a huge problem we are facing, which sometimes has led to reduce work efficiency and bring about problems with security guards,” he said.