US Department of the Interior Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes has cautioned Tanzania’s wildlife management authorities about the sharp rise in illegal wildlife poaching across the country.
'The potential for the continued success of the Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) is threatened by the spike in illegal wildlife poaching we see across Tanzania,” Hayes said late Tuesday when he handed over control of Burunge WMA visitor centre in the northern Manyara Region to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.
Construction of the centre was sponsored by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
WMAs are community-owned and managed conservation areas that empower local communities to be decision makers over their natural resources.
“Armed poachers pose a threat to human life, a threat to the wildlife, and a threat to tourism. We all lose - and lose badly - if the poachers win,” Hayes told Tanzania’s Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Hamis Kagasheki and other senior government officials who attended the function.
“That's why we are especially pleased to launch a new era of collaboration and facilitate stronger coordination between our agencies for the management and operation of protected areas and the conservation of biodiversity and endangered species,' Hayes added.
Though Hayes applauded the significant efforts made to address wildlife trafficking in Tanzania, he also noted that there were challenges ahead to be dealt with for the continued success of WMAs across the country.
Through the WMA approach, local communities are motivated to participate in conservation-based activities by the revenue generated from eco-friendly tourism enterprises.
Currently, there are 17 registered WMAs with user rights in Tanzania, and an additional 21 are at various stages of development.
Many of these areas are located on the periphery of Tanzanian parks and protected areas which provide a buffer to migration corridors for wildlife.
More than 400,000 Tanzanians have benefited from the WMAs, with over US$5 million going back to their communities annually from income earned from various tourism-related activities.