Following increasing cases of poaching the Tanzania government has said it will work with the United States to help end wildlife thefts across the country.
The number of elephants in two wildlife sanctuaries in Tanzania has fallen by nearly 42 percent in just three years, according to a 2012 census. The census at the Selous Game Reserve and Mikumi National Park reveal that elephant numbers had plunged down to 43,552 in 2009 – a record fall of more than 20,000 in three years.
The government statement was made by Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki, Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism at the launch of the Burunge Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Visitors’ Centre held this week at Babati District in Manyara region.
“Poaching is a big problem … we are destroying the good name of our country and this is a challenge that needs to be resolved immediately,” Ambassador Kagasheki said.
The minister said that tourism brings in more than $600bn in a year in the United States, arguing that Tanzania could also do the same if the challenges facing the sector – such as poaching – were dealt with.
The minister said the government would encourage and facilitate establishment of wildlife management areas (WMAs) in villages and devolve management responsibility of those areas to village communities.
However, he noted that implementation of WMAs faced many challenges such as high costs, low management, financial and technical capacity of the AAs to manage the resources as well as increasing poaching incidents and encroachment of the WMAs by farmers and livestock keepers.
The US Government was a key player in the formulation of the country’s Wildlife Policy in 1998 (revised in 2007) -- through which the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism was able to implement the concept of involving rural communities in wildlife conservation.
The minister noted that US support also facilitated the review of the Wildlife Conservation Act. No 12 of 1974 – which set out to address many of the challenges of the WMA concept.
In another development, The Guardian has visited the Burunge WMA in Babati District, and observed a number of its achievements – which include dispensaries, schools, local government offices
Ramadhani Ismail, chairman of the Burunge WMA said the facility was established in 2003, started by five villages who invested some Sh37m/-.
Currently, Burunge WMA has 10 village members, who between them hold a total revenue of 429m/-, all generated from various WMA development projects.