Redrawing maps of reserved areas a welcome change

22Jan 2019
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Redrawing maps of reserved areas a welcome change

FAIRNESS for human beings in issues of conservation is on the way, with an order by NGO-crusher President Dr John Magufuli to break one of the sacred principles of global conservation, that it is 'human activities' (not economic activities) that tear up global conservation needs. The president-

has lately directed cancelling plans for  an operation to wipe out hundreds of villages implanted in various low level reservation areas, whose users claim that in a good number of cases they already had title deeds to the land provided by local authorities. These deeds would not have protected them but fore thinking by the president, that a redrawing was a must.


At times the size of Tanzania's protected areas is defended by the need to boost tourism, but we offer just too much and receive fairly little by comparison. For instance neighbouring Kenya's key tourism facilities are an extension of the northern circuit in Tanzania, and of course we could overlap in terms of beach tourism for the coastal areas. It means that the vast areas remaining on the tourist attractions map of Tanzania provide plenty of variety, but without corresponding numbers of visitors to show of, as a country is usually marked by a specific product and atmosphere, where more quantity of the same product or atmosphere is inelastic, pays rather little.

The tourist product and mathematics of size of reserved areas and numbers of tourists apart, it is evident that people who live next to game reserves or game protected areas, apart from national parks, have taken the brunt of the conservation sharp end for far too long. There was Operation Tokomeza nearly five years ago where so many people lost property and limb in many instances, and there is scarcely any available information that they were properly compensated. With vast population increase compared to two decades ago - let alone at the time of independence nearly 60 years ago - pressure on habitats is on the rise, and wildlife is usually the priority....

The change that that president has directed definitely won't be interpreted as eliminating restrictions on pastoralist movement imposed since the reservations started coming up during the trusteeship period. By some kind of narrative all this has been a hindrance to obtaining the best grazing areas, etc - the facility is only to absorb some of the pressure that is felt by pastoralist and agricultural groups where inefficiently used conservation land is nearby, where some marginal wildlife might indeed be present. Many areas marked out for conservation are back up facilities for the national parks, the wider circle representing a buffer zone for parks.

While the redrawing of conservation maps, if only by a marginal extent, is a welcome step, it only serves to remind the country and the leadership in particular that the country has a long way to go to attain conservation harmony. By any calculation the still rapid increase in population, if it continues to remain rural-based and thus even more prone to high birth rates is more or less unsustainable. Redrawingn boundaries is one thing but exploitation of reservation resources is a different matter, from illegal hunting to expanding current settlements and relative diminution of the population to take up urbanization would be helpful, not expanding villages.