At least six Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in the country have been given user rights to utilise wildlife resources in their areas by entering deals with hunting firms.
Speaking to this paper in an interview, the executive secretary of Authorised Associations Consortium (AAC), George Wambura, said by August last year, through its 12 associations, the consortium issued an advert to invite applications for WMA hunting block in line with Section 51(2) of WMA regulations (2012) of which six AA filed requests. The applications are at different stages of evaluation before the applicants get contracts.
He mentioned the WMA as Enduimet which is located in Longido District, Makao in Meatu District, Pawaga-Idodi in Iringa District, Liwale in Liwale District, Tunduru in Tunduru District and Makame in Kiteto District.
Nevertheless he said, for the first time in the history of wildlife conservation in Tanzania, local communities are given legal right to procure investors in their hunting blocks. The role of allocating hunting blocks falls under the portfolio of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism block allocation committee as per Section 31(7) of the Wildlife Conservation Act No 5 of 2009.
The ministry therefore procures investors in hunting blocks under their direct jurisdictions which are in the Game Reserves and AAs for the WMAs they manage.
He said user right is normally given by the Director of Wildlife/Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism after community based organisation managing a WMA attains authorised association status.
WMAs are formed by several villages that have set aside their land after undertaking Village Land Use Plan-VLUP to establish those areas.
The collective land from all villages that seems suitable for wildlife conservation is the one called a "WMA". The management and processes for establishing areas are stipulated on the 2012WMA regulations.
Explaining further Wambura noted that earlier, AAC was tasked by its members to spearhead the process by issuing the advert to invite applications for hunting blocks and organizing training workshops to build capacities for AAs to perform their roles as it is their first time, more importantly on the negotiation skills with potential investors.
He also asked the government to increase percentage of hunting fee that goes to AAs in order to save wildlife.
This applies to other tourist hunting fees especially Game fee (Animal fee) of which the government gets the chunk 55 percent and leaves AAs with 45 percent.
Moreover, section 66 of WMAs regulation (2012) stipulates that it is the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism that dictates what share the community (AAs) can have from revenue generated from tourist hunting activities, meaning that the preparation of benefit sharing scheme is not participatory.
He revealed that limits amount of revenue to villagers that forms WMA and acts as disincentive to participate in protection of wildlife resources in WMAs.
It has to be known that half (50 percent) of the total revenue collected subject to this benefit sharing between the Government and WMAs, is distributed equally to the member villagers for their development.
Secondly, in these contracts, communities get the opportunity to negotiate with investors on their support, especially community support for the development of their villages.
Such projects include the building of dispensaries, schools, water wells and supporting education.
It is within legislations (Tourist hunting regulations (2010) whereby investors are required to provide not less than USD 5,000 for community development which is distributed equally to member villagers.
Thirdly, villagers get employment and on job training. This also becomes part of the contract where investors are required to employ local villagers for tourist hunting operations.