Dar es Salaam. Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) has called on the government to get rid of all laws governing conservation in Tanzania, accusing them of being responsible for the ongoing tension in Ngorongoro given their legalization of wildlife hunting.
The Dar es Salaam-based human rights organisation made the proposal in its latest public statement on what is happening in Ngorongoro, Arusha region that has pitted local communities and human rights organisations against the government.
Authorities in Tanzania are determined to move the indigenous people of Ngorongoro – which include those from the Maasai tribe – to the designated area in Handeni, Tanga region, in what they say is an attempt to save the UNESCO-inscribe World Heritage Site “from destruction.”
In Loliondo, a division within Ngorongoro, the government demarcated about 1,500 square kilometres out of 4,000 square kilometres of village land, setting off a violent clash between locals and law enforcement officers, leading to a death of a cop and dozens of local people injured.
In its statement on Thursday, LHRC said all these were happening in order for the government to carve out a village land for businesspeople who are interested in wildlife hunting, a type of tourism the rights organisation called “detrimental” to Tanzania.
“It is high time the government reviews laws that allow wildlife hunting and scrap them off the lawbook as the best way to protect wild animals,” LHRC Executive Director Anna Henga said in the statement.
LHRC thinks that banning wildlife hunting, or transportation, will help Tanzania become the best place for photography tourism for a very long period of time.
“The Ministry of Natural Resource and Tourism’s own figures acknowledge that areas where photography tourism is happening [in Tanzania] earn the nation more foreign currencies than those that do not,” Henga said in the statement.
“[These areas] also have few conflicts with authorities compared to those where wildlife hunting takes place,” she added.
This approach to conservation will mean wild animals will co-exist with native people, an approach that has been touted by other conservation stakeholders, including scientists working in East African conservation landscapes.
In their open letter dated June 25th, the scientists urged the government to reorient its efforts at wildlife conservation that builds on – rather than challenges – the rights and livelihoods of local communities living peacefully and in coexistence with wildlife.
“[Tanzania should] recognize that the long-term compatibility of pastoralism and wildlife conservation by Maasai could act as a global example, bringing Tanzania much fame and recognition,” the scientists wrote in their letter. “Conservation with local communities – not against them – should be the foundation of current conservation and tourism efforts.”
Lukelo Francis is a Dar es Salaam-based The Chanzo’s correspondent. He is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.