Wildlife Working Group insists on community involvement, rights

10Nov 2018
Aisia Rweyemamu
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Wildlife Working Group insists on community involvement, rights

THE Wildlife Working Group (WWG) has acknowledged the special commitment of the fifth phase government on wildlife conservation, requesting the government to effectively supervise the benefit sharing scheme so that the community around can directly benefit and recognize the benefits of the sector.

The call was made yesterday in Dar es Salaam during the semi-annual WWG meeting  for strategize the best way of addressing challenges facing wildlife conservation in Tanzania, so as to build the future of natural resources conservation in our country. WWG is under the coordination of the Tanzania Natural Resource Forum (TNRF).

 Speaking at the meeting, the TNRF Executive Director Zakaria Faustin urged the government to use WWG as a think tank to obtain usable ideas on wildlife issues in order to ensure good implementation of policies in the sector.

The revived WWG will effectively use opportunities unveiled by the fifth phase government in advocating policy improvement in wildlife conservation, by providing guidelines for communities around the area to benefit directly from the sector, he said.

Earlier in his opening remarks, Dr. Suma Kaare, the TNRF board chairperson said the government is doing a lot in making sure that wildlife is safeguarded, noting that government efforts are evidently seen.

The wildlife sector faces various challenges including conflicting policies, laws and regulations and its project implementation, limited resources and skills, as well as reluctance, especially by the government to entrust rights of natural resources management and powers to local communities.

“One way of addressing challenges facing wildlife conservation in Tanzania is through improved stakeholder collaboration and coordination,” he said.

On the basis of his affirmations, the lack of a distinctive national platform for deliberations and joint decision-making between various actors affects progress and effectiveness of conservation programs in achieving sustainable natural resources conservation.

Realizing this lack of a common platform and following consultations with various local, national, regional and international level stakeholders, TNRF facilitated the process to initiating the WWG, he told the gathering.

Dr. Kaare noted that currently in Tanzania, there are no active platforms where natural resources stakeholders, especially in the wildlife sector, meet and discuss emerging issues of interest.

“It is for this reason that TNRF saw the importance of calling the WWG meeting, to discuss priority policy reforms needed to improve the wildlife sector. WWG will move with the fifth phase government’s pace in order to achieve conservation objectives”, he said.

Community inclusion in conservation is essential, but collective effort as a working group is key for success in addressing the bottleneck issues related to conservation of wildlife. “Working in collaboration ensures sharing of best practices, proper implementation and pooling of resources together to address conservation challenges,” he emphasized.

 Florentina Julius, the coordinator for Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) explained that the WWG meeting was intended to come up with concrete strategies on how to enhance their contribution to policy and legal framework recommendations, for sustainable wildlife conservation and management in our country.

The meeting brings together decision-makers from the government and executive agencies, the private sector and civil society organizations, to guide discussion and to shape the agenda on the future of wildlife resources in Tanzania.

Among the meeting participants were the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism,  the Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA), the Wildlife Division, the Tanzania Wildlife Protection Fund, the International Resource Group - PROTECT Project, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Tanzania, the  Zoology and Wildlife Conservation Department of the University of Dar es Salaam.

Others were the University College of London (UCL), the Nature Conservancy, the Jane Goodall Institute, Community Wildlife Management Agency Consortium (CWMAC), Belgian Technical Cooperation (BTC), TRAFFIC East Africa Office and the Mazingira Network Tanzania.