By Deus Ngowi, The Daily News
As the African continent and international stakeholders join efforts in fighting illegal wildlife activities and protecting the wildlife, Tanzania has emerged as one of countries that have so far succeeded.
The Pan-African Conference on Strengthening Information Sharing Infrastructure and Governance Frameworks to Address Human-Nature Conflicts taking place here heard from senior government officials that strategies that were employed by the government since 2015 have paid well.
Opening the two-day meeting that has brought together about 100 stakeholders from within and outside Africa, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Hamisi Kigwangalla said elephant poaching was almost down to zero now and there are no new government trophies that are being traded from Tanzania.
“Now the situation in our country in regards to anti-poaching activities has improved to the level that I can get sleep. I am happy with the work that has been done by officials at institutions under my ministry and I congratulate them.
“Elephants poaching, I can say, is almost zero now. There are no new government trophies,” said the minister.
He hastened to warn that there are some people who have in store old government trophies, calling upon them to surrender because they can no longer sell them. He said they could even send him message on phone and surrender them to get pardoned.
The minister said that the efforts by the government have resulted to an increased number of wildlife including the elephants. “We have witnessed a significant increase in the population of wildlife in our protected areas due to tremendous efforts put by the Government to curb poaching and illegal wildlife activities in the country,” said Dr Kigwangalla.
Dr Kigwangalla also mentioned the achievements made so far to address the problem of human-wildlife conflicts through continuous engagement of communities especially those found around wildlife protection areas.
“Government interventions to address conflicts between people and wildlife have seen significant reduction in such conflicts,” said the minister. Reiterating on the need for regional cooperation and partnership, the minister emphasized on strengthened regional collaboration and partnerships to ensure access to sustainable funding and technical support to regional and national agencies. He added that partnership remains a key factor to the success of conservation of wildlife in Africa.
The Assistant Director from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, In-charge of the National Anti-poaching Unit, Mr Robert Mande, said that by 2015 Tanzania was among ‘the gang of eight’, meaning countries with high rates of poaching in Africa, but now is out of it and shines as one of the best in protecting wildlife.
However, he said that as some other countries are still struggling on the matter, Tanzania has to cooperate by sharing intelligence information on illegal wildlife trade.
He said what saved Tanzania wildlife is the strategies that came with a philosophy to curb poaching beyond government framework and by state agencies joining hands in the war. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Ms Verity Nyagah, emphasized on the need for engagement of local communities and use of indigenous knowledge.
“As we unpack the theme of the conference on sharing information on human-nature conflict, it is important to factor the role of indigenous knowledge and practices in resolving conflicts in wildlife and natural resources conservation. “We need to ensure that we do not side-line local communities when dealing with these conflicts,” she said.
The conference is being organised by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism of Tanzania in partnership with UNDP examines the opportunity for national and regional bodies as well as international organisations to play a pivotal role in strengthening geo-information sharing of infrastructure in addressing the concerns in wildlife conservation and agropastoral conflicts in Africa.