A New Government Strategy on Empowering Villages through Wildlife Conservation

Dar es Salaam: The government has devised strategies to ensure that problematic wildlife, such as elephants, are seen not as nuisances but as opportunities in villages with wildlife corridors, encouraging local communities to participate in their conservation.

These strategies have emerged at a time when incidents of wildlife entering human settlements and causing damage are increasing in corridor villages, intensifying human-wildlife conflicts.

The approach includes identifying wildlife corridors in villages and providing them with titles for conservation purposes, including hunting and photographic tourism, to benefit local residents. This was revealed recently by Fortunata Msofe, the Director of the Wildlife Department in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, during a forum with members of the Journalists’ Environmental Association of Tanzania (JET).

Msofe stated that through this strategy, 61 wildlife corridors have been identified nationwide, with 20 crucial ones being formalized due to significant human-wildlife interactions. Additionally, 22 community wildlife conservation areas that met the criteria were granted resource utilization certificates, with another 16 in the process of receiving theirs.

Another strategy involves ensuring that areas with corridors develop proper land use plans to reduce human-wildlife interactions. In collaboration with the President’s Office of Regional Administration and Local Government (TAMISEMI), the government is educating communities in corridor areas about the importance of conserving wildlife and guiding them on economic activities to avoid the temptation of poaching.

To ensure the effective implementation of these strategies, a five-year Strategic Plan for Securing Wildlife Corridors was prepared in 2022. This plan aims to formally recognize corridors, allowing wildlife to traverse these villages and enabling residents to benefit.

A national team coordinated by the Prime Minister’s Office, through the Ministry of Policy, Parliament, and Coordination, has been established, including representatives from relevant ministries such as the Ministry of Lands, to ensure these ministries’ goals align with corridor management.

‚ÄúThe Ministry of Lands assists in surveying our villages, identifying wildlife corridor areas, and upgrading certain reserves to game reserves,‚ÄĚ Msofe said.

Hawa Mwechaga, the Chief Wildlife Officer and Coordinator of Natural Resources, Environment, and Climate Change at TAMISEMI, stated that their responsibilities include ensuring that villagers benefit from their resources to encourage conservation for environmental protection and climate change mitigation.

The government is currently investing in the carbon trading business, with revenues benefiting local communities and generating tax revenue. For example, in Tanganyika District Council, eight villages are set to receive TZS 14 billion from carbon trading, providing jobs to 250 people, health insurance to residents, and funding for the construction of hospitals.

The strategies also include empowering residents to understand the importance of tree conservation to prevent wildlife migration and ensure continued benefits from tourism. They also involve identifying safe areas for residents to conduct their activities, such as farming and livestock keeping, to avoid conflict with wildlife.

Moreover, a mid-term strategy will be developed to integrate sectoral ministry plans, identifying necessary resources to facilitate their roles, especially at regional and local government levels.

Over 50 percent of the country’s forests fall under TAMISEMI, including 21 million hectares at the village level and approximately 3.5 million hectares at the district council level, community forests, and individual ownership.

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