Generally, poaching in the 283-square-kilometre Burunge WMA has decreased significantly, although there are still some incidents of wild animal killings for food, according to the Burunge WMA secretary, Benson Mwahise.
Briefing journalists during a study tour organised by the Journalist Environmental Association of Tanzania (JET) and USAID under its Promoting Tanzania's Environment, Conservation and Tourism Project (PROTECT) project, the secretary linked the decrease in poaching with increased awareness among villagers on the importance of conserving the environment as well as good village land use plans.
To ensure effective implementation of the land use plan, leaders of the WMA demarcated the total area into six zones which includes an area for tourists where a number of development projects have been executed, wild animal corridors, wildlife areas, general use spaces, protected areas and the Lakes zone (Manyara and Burunge).
“We have broadly succeeded in controlling poaching; some villagers still kill the wild animals for meat. They mostly prefer zebras, buffalo and monkeys' ', said Mwahise noting that at times, bush meat hunters steal ostrich eggs.
He said that in 2017 there were seven incidents, but they have so far recorded 18 incidents of wild animal killings from January 2019 to September 2020. He said they have filed court cases against the perpetrators.
He said they have been taking various initiatives to combat the situation which includes employment of 30 rangers who are trained at Pasiansi Wildlife Training Institute (PWTI) in Mwanza Region.
He added: “We have also purchased vehicles that are used for patrols. We are doing all these in collaboration with Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA) and local government authorities.”
According to Mwahise, they also provide conservation education to the villagers through seminars conducted in collaboration with local authorities.
Project manager of the Chem Chem Association which works in the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem, Walter Pallangyo said they have been conducting joint anti-poaching patrols whereas a number of incidents including tree cutting and charcoal burning were also recorded.
To support conservation activities at the Burunge WMA, Pallangyo said the association has been paying salary for rangers and covering fuel cost for patrol vehicles.
He said the joint anti-poaching patrols are conducted in collaboration with TAWA, Babati District Council and the Burunge WMA.
However, experts have been cautioning Tanzanians on consuming the wild meat since most of it does not go through the recommended meat inspection procedures thus posing a number of health risks.
Recently when speaking during a journalist training on biodiversity conservation, Dr Iddi Lipende from the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) told journalists that almost 60 per cent of the world diseases are transmitted from animals to humans.
Dr Lipende linked the increase in zoonotic diseases with the increased population which has fueled the transition of animal-borne diseases.
Zoonotic diseases can rarely be transmitted from human to human, he said.
He called for inclusive participatory strategy between stakeholders and journalists in educating the public on how to prevent themselves from animal-borne diseases.