Tanzania tour operators: Conservation agenda takes center stage on Nyerere Day
Conservation will prominently feature in an annual commemoration of Tanzania’s founding father, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, on October 14, 2017, organizers have said.
The Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) said that it has resolved to put more energy and time this year to mark Nyerere Day in Arusha, Tanzania’s designated safari capital, to recognize his outstanding contribution on conservation.
“We are organizing Nyerere Day in Arusha with an intention of raising awareness on importance of conservation in the wake of declining wildlife population in Tanzania and East Africa in general,” noted TATO Chairman, Wilbard Chambulo.
According to the research findings by scientists from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), also known as the World Wildlife Fund in the US and Canada, and the Zoological Society of London, half of the population of wild animals on Earth has been lost in the last 40 years.
“Africa is not spared; the African elephant and rhinos are doomed to extinction if we do not act now,” Mr. Chambulo warned. For instance, Tanzania will have no elephant left by 2020, possibly earlier at current rates of loss.
The black rhino population is so small and a surge of poaching would wipe them out in months. The few black rhinos remaining are protected at great expense, as their future is precarious if the situation is left unabated.
There is no doubt that a growing human population outside national parks and protected areas, along with poverty in many of these areas, is creating an increase in human-wildlife conflicts.
“It is indeed clear that Mwalimu Nyerere had left a legacy which today made nature-based tourism the top foreign exchange earner in the country,” the TATO boss said.
The commemoration will also see the introduction of the Serengeti de-snaring program, according to TATO’s Councilor spearheading the conservation drive, Ms. Vesna Glamocanin Tibaijuka. The Serengeti wildlife population is facing yet another deadly threat. Local people are silently using snares to catch massive wildlife. A snare is a small-scale poaching method targeting wildlife species for bush meat, including the abundant wildebeest.
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Deadly traps in use, however, catch many other wild animals – mostly elephants and predators – waylaying the wildebeest.
Thousands of snares have been discovered and dismantled in the recent past, and 5 poachers’ camps have been reported to Tanzania National Parks’ (TANAPA) anti-poaching unit. The magnitude of the challenge demonstrates the need for acting fast, given the high rate of snaring and losses incurred during the annual migration season.
Tanzania tour operators have announced to focus more on corporate social responsibilities (CSR), a move suggesting a historic shift in their undertakings. The major players in a multi-billion-dollar tourism industry, through their alliance, TATO, have traditionally been skewed towards lobbying and advocacy for a conducive business environment and tourism-related researches to a greater degree. But the just-ended 34th TATO annual general meeting (AGM) held in Arusha unanimously resolved to pour their hearts and minds into community-related projects and conservation initiatives as part of a new adopted CSR policy.
According to TATO’s CEO, Mr. Sirili Akko, the new CSR is a concept whereby the association and its member companies integrate social and conservation concerns in their business and operations on a voluntary basis.