Dodoma. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, in cooperation with GIZ Tanzania, a German development agency, has launched an ambitious project to curtail a spate of wildlife-human conflicts in the Lindi and Ruvuma regions.
The project comes against the background of increasing cases of human-wildlife conflicts in the two regions, and it will be implemented in sync with the ongoing national strategy against the challenge.
Data from the government show that in just one year – 2022 to 2023 – wildlife has caused the destruction of approximately 1,0724.05 acres of various crops in the regions of Lindi and Mtwara.
Speaking during the project’s tailor-made inception workshop, held in the Ruvuma region recently, Ruvuma Regional Commissioner Cornel Laban Thomas observed that wildlife-human conflicts have become rampant in the Ruvuma Zone, especially in Namtumbo and Tunduru, as well as in Liwale district of Lindi region.
He appreciated the support being rolled out by the government of Germany towards the sector, adding that he is optimistic that the robust project will help to eliminate the long-standing challenge in the prone areas.
Cornel Thomas added that the project’s implementation has cropped up properly as the wildlife-human conflicts continue to wreak major havoc among the communities placed within and adjacent to natural wildlife corridors.
For his part, the Director of Programs from GIZ, Jens Bruggemann, said the government of Germany was keen to support Tanzania in the war against wildlife-human conflicts.
“The goal is to protect both the wildlife and the communities dwelling in areas prone to wildlife intrusion,” Mr Bruggemann said.
As per the project’s set-up, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism will implement the project in cooperation with GIZ Tanzania, whereby there will be other partners, including the Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA), the Tanzania Forestry Services (TFS ), the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) and the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI).
The major activities under the project, among others, include identifying and restoring the natural wildlife corridors and raising awareness of the communities surrounding the reserve areas.
The Chief Wildlife Researcher, from TAWIRI, Dr Hamza Kija, explained that they have so far surveyed and managed to record a total of 61 wildlife corridors in the country, whereby at least 20 corridors were considered for major improvement and protection due to their ecological, economical, political as well as tourism potential.
“Most of the corridors are found far outside the national parks, and thus, due to poor awareness over the importance of the areas, people from the nearby communities have often been damaging the corridors due to agricultural and animal grazing activities,” Dr Kija explained.
In recent years, Tanzania has experienced a damaging wave of human-wildlife conflicts in different parts for various reasons. The challenge has become rampant in the country’s communities, which share boundaries with protected areas where the natural wildlife corridors exist.
The dwindling of wildlife resources has been linked to human actions through over-exploitation, habitat destruction, pollution and introduction of non-native species.
Due to unfriendly human practices, it is estimated that at least 400,000 hectares of forests are being destroyed annually in Tanzania, which continues to damage wildlife living shelters.
Human encroachment into wildlife areas and damaging and blocking the natural wildlife corridors have become part and parcel among most areas adjacent to the wildlife areas.
The most affected side in the move is not wildlife only as the lives of citizens and their properties and food security have been impacted due to frequent invasions of wildlife animals, especially the Jumbos, into the communities.
Dr Kija explained that the wildlife corridors are of paramount importance for the welfare of the wildlife animals but also the prosperity of the tourism sector, complaining that in some areas, such as Mvomero in Morogoro, some wildlife corridors have entirely been destroyed and blocked by human activities.
The government has developed a unique national strategic plan to repair the situation further. Commencing its implementation recently, the ongoing strategy focuses on solving challenges of wildlife-human conflict within the prone areas.
Among others, the strategy gears to curtail a spate of encroachment of human activities in the historical wildlife corridors, especially for agriculture and livestock grazing purposes.
Valentine Oforo is a freelance journalist based in Dodoma, Tanzania. He is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.