The award has so far been given to communities and individuals who have conserved the environment which includes management and conservation of village natural forest, water sources and natural vegetation. Winners receive between 1m/- and 2m/-.
The awards were officially launched in 2016 with the aim of promoting public participation in conservation issues and making them aware of how environment conservation is important for the wellbeing of the park.
Conservation officer from the parks Good Neighborhood Department, Emakulata Mbawi said that prior to the launch of the awards there was serious destruction of environment which went together with illegal hunting.
According to Mbawi, the awards have stimulated public participation in wildlife conservation and put an end to illegal hunting activities within the park.
She said the award has been established in five districts of Wanging'ombe, Mufindi, Kilolo, Makete and Mbalali. Apart from cash prizes, winners are also provided with certificates.
“Communities have been voluntarily engaging themselves in conservation activities to get the award. Many of them are aware of the importance of conserving the environment as well as the wild animals,” said Mbawi noting that winners are also trained on conservation issues and offered to visit the park.
She added that participants of the environment conservation award include schools, village authorities, individuals and community groups.
“We have successfully established special security groups involving villagers bordering the park. This has enhanced security at the park,” she added.
There are some villages that were known for illegal hunting but after introduction of the awards and security group, the situation has completely changed, she said.
One of the villagers from Tungamalenga, Said Nisan Fungito said they were motivated to take part in environment and wildlife conservation activities due to the good prizes offered by the park.
“We were previously involving in environmental destruction and illegal hunting because we were not directly benefiting from the park,” he said adding they are working closely with conservation officers to protect the park.
Recently a team of journalists from various media houses paid a field visit at the Ruaha National Park in Iringa region. The tour was organised by the Journalists Environmental Association of Tanzania (JET) with support from Internews –Earth Journalism Network.
Ruaha National Park is a national park in Tanzania located in the Iringa region, with the size of 20,226 km2, making it the largest protected area in Tanzania and East Africa.
The park is one of the Tanzania birds’ paradise with more than 571 species and some of them are known to be migrants from within and outside Africa.
Ruaha is believed to have a higher concentration of elephants than any national park in East Africa. It is also a place where magnificent mammals like Kudu, Sable and Roan antelopes can easily be spotted in Miombo woodland.
The park is also a habitat for endangered wild dogs. Other animals in the park include lions, leopards, cheetah, giraffes, zebras, elands, impala, bat eared foxes and Jackals.
Apart from large animals, the park also harbors a number of reptiles and amphibians such as crocodiles, poisonous and non-poisonous snakes, monitor lizards, agama lizards and frogs.
The park is characterised by semi-arid type of vegetation, baobab trees, Acacia and other species.