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Species Survival In Jeopardy

Red colobus colonies under threat in Udzungwa Forest

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN  Feb 07, 2011

(eTN) - A report from researchers and scientists, released earlier this week in Tanzania, paints a gloomy picture over the future survival of the endemic red colobus monkeys of the Udzungwa Forest National Park. The subspecies, apparently only found in this part of Southern Tanzania, are under severe threat according to the publication, due to hunting for bush meat and reckless cutting of large swathes of these forests, reducing the habitat needed for the subspecies to survive.

The report also claims that for several years now no effective protection measures or anti-poaching operations have been in place and that the same was true for stopping "tree poachers" from cutting precious tropical hard wood for commercial sale.

Researchers and conservationists also pointed out that the Udzungwa Forest – as were others neighboring them – were traditional water towers and that the rapid deforestation could have a potentially disastrous effect on the dams and hydro-power generation depending on streams and rivers originating in these forests.

Tanzania has been under sustained scrutiny over failed anti-poaching measures and the illicit trade in tropical woods, but other than official denials and statements to the contrary, little evidence can be found that the country is making a concerted effort to stopping these activities and bringing the culprits, their buyers, and the financiers to book.

One conservation source in Arusha added this upon discussing the issue: "Some areas lack management plans, and local administration may not be aware or sensitized to the natural treasures in their areas or how to protect them, even not that they have to protect them by law. Tanzania is a big country and the more remote parks are faced with greater challenges compared to those on the northern circuit. There is more attention on what is happening because of sheer numbers, but the lesser-visited parks are lacking such publicity or international spotlight. Only when researchers unearth bad things happening there do we Tanzanians often have a chance to learn about it and do something about it. Our government really needs to move from lip service to action.

"Saying so many percent of our land [is] protected is not enough when actually there is no protection in some parts. Maybe some parks could be privatized to raise more money for conservation, but considering our budget shortfalls in so many areas, what other options are there left? I think biodiversity can pay for itself, through discovery of medicinal plants, for instance, which can provide cures for many diseases like people ... in the Amazon and careful sustainable harvesting of resources."

Seems a tall order for all conservation-minded Tanzanians ahead of them to deal with such unregulated and accelerated exploitation of resources especially "away from prying eyes," adds this correspondent.

Red colobus colonies under threat in Udzungwa Forest
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