By Hazla Omar, The Daily News
Conservation efforts employed by the fifth phase government are yielding positive results as the United States has just lifted the five-year long ban on wildlife products from Tanzania. The Deputy Commissioner for Tourism and Business Services for the Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA), Imani Nkuwi, explained here that, in 2014, the United States ceased the importation of wildlife related trophies from Tanzania.
He cited distrust on how the country was handling the protection of wildlife, natural resources and preservation of the environment. “But now it seems the United States has restored its trust in Tanzania as far as protection of natural resources is concerned and is therefore permitting trophies from here to be shipped to America,” stated Nkuwi, adding that already, one firm had started exporting such products to the US.
According to the TAWA official, conservation efforts made by the fifth phase government were being felt and acknowledged globally; that is why Tanzania had been withdrawn from the blacklist which had also included southern African countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. This means that Tanzania can now resume exports of lion, buffalo and elephant trophies to America.
“Tanzania has reserved over 35 per cent of the country’s total area covering nearly one million square kilometers for the protection of natural resources and wildlife. Last year we added five new national parks, increasing the number to 21,” Nkuwi pointed out.
One of the local investors in hunting operations, Mr Hillary Daffi, who is also the director of both Marera Safaris and Bullet Safaris, said the US decision to permit wildlife products from Tanzania was a windfall for the latter, because America accounts for more than 60 per cent of all hunting products from Africa. Despite the good news however, Nkuwi pointed out that Washington was still treading carefully and will be scrutinising such transactions very closely.
According to global observers, Tanzania has more than enough space to accommodate all wildlife found within its borders and can thus increase the ecosystem even further.
Records show that Tanzania has set aside over 265,000 square kilometres for wildlife conservation and this is equivalent to 27 per cent of the total country area, while its neighbour Kenya, north of the border, has just 44,600 square kilometres accounting for only 7.5 per cent of the country’s total area.
The Director General, TAWA Dr James Wakibara, revealed that TAWA, which runs 28 game reserves and 46 game controlled areas, so far covers over 200,000 square kilometres. And that is discounting national parks manned by the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) as well as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area being managed by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA).
But in addition to national parks, game reserves, game controlled and conservation areas, Tanzania is establishing community based Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) where villages pool land to create areas in which wildlife can thrive so that local residents could benefit from tourism activities.
Currently, there are 38 WMAs countrywide at different stages of development, of which 17 WMAs have attained Authorised Association (AA) status. These will further add more land for wildlife in Tanzania. Tanzania has also gazetted nearly 20 million hectares of forests as forest reserves, 4.1 million hectares of which are managed under Participatory Forest Management.