Highlights and Publications

Human face of the Wildlife Division

The Wildlife Division in Tanzania has introduced a Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) programme to enable people to benefit from wildlife resources directly as a means to reduce poverty among members of communities in rural areas. Perhaps more important is the fact that the programme opens up a window for members of the community to acquire legal rights to own wildlife resources. Communities lose out in many ways if they do not subscribe to the programme.

Longido officials also responsible for Wildlife Management Areas

For example, reports indicate that villages in Burunge area in Babati District receive up to 400 million shillings as regular income from wildlife resources in the area. It is an amount which the community had to beg from foreign funding agencies in the past. By the way, the money is an amount which only two photographic companies that operate in the area pay to communities during the year. Members of the community now have revenues to invest in development projects like schools and health centers. One wonders where all that money went to prior to establishment of the community empowerment programme.

The Wildlife Division in Tanzania has practiced many forms of programmes that aim to enable communities to derive benefits directly from wildlife resources. The most prominent is undoubtedly the current programme that encourages communities to benefit by creating forms of protected areas known as Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs).

The Government of Tanzania gazette WMAs once they are established just like it does with Game Reserves, National Parks, and Game Controlled Areas (GCA). As a matter of interest, Game Controlled Areas are wildlife areas where Tanzania citizens can hunt if they obtain hunting licenses from the Wildlife Division.

It follows that, members of communities are authorized to carry out consumptive resource utilization activities in GCAs and in WMAs but not in Game Reserves or National Parks. To be sure, the government rather than communities own Game Reserves, National Parks, Game Controlled Areas and WMAs.

But indications are that there is possibility that the government will allow members of communities to own WMAs in the future if the communities manage the areas and the associated wildlife resources effectively. The fact that the government has passed a legislation that authorizes communities that own WMAs to manage hunting blocs on their own is evidence that the government can allow communities to own WMAs in the future. One can argue that it would be a show of community empowerment by the government at its best, if it happens.

To stimulate the process to establish WMAs, the Wildlife Division encourages communities to apply to convert Game Controlled Areas in their areas to become WMAs. Otherwise, the government considers the option to convert the Game Controlled Areas to become Wildlife Corridors. By definition, the government owns Wildlife Corridors and allows relatively limited opportunities for communities to utilize the resources in the areas. Again, communities miss out on opportunities to improve livelihoods if they let the Government to convert Game Controlled Areas to become Corridors rather than WMAs. By the way, members of communities can establish WMAs in areas other than GCAs as long as the areas are rich in wildlife resources that include plants.

Legislations, regulations, policies, guidelines and literature exist to guide members of the communities to establish WMAs. Examples are the Wildlife Act 1974, Wildlife Conservation Act 2009, WMAs Regulations 2002, Wildlife Policy 2007 and the Guidelines for Establishing WMAs 1997. The Forest Act 2002 and the Forest Policy 1998 can be handy in this regard. In addition, many scholars have documented the experiences learned from WMAs in Tanzania during the past decade.

Speaking of experience, interested communities can visit, for purposes of learning, any of the 16 pilot WMAs which the Wildlife Division in collaboration with other stakeholders helped to establish in the country. The WMAs are at different stages of development. WMAs located in Arusha and nearby areas include Burunge WMAs in Babati District, Endummeit in Longido and Makame in Kiteto.There is talk about establishing a WMA in Loliondo.

It is fair to mention as a matter of courtesy that many challenges influence how WMAs operate in Tanzania. There is much progress nevertheless

Source: By Ramadhani Kupaza

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