UNDP administrator stands for local communities in conservation of wildlife

Winding her official tour to Tanzania this week, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark said benefit sharing from tourism gains between local communities and the wildlife

UNDP administrator stands for local communities in conservation of wildlife

Winding her official tour to Tanzania this week, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark said benefit sharing from tourism gains between local communities and the wildlife conservators would be the best option to protect elephants and rhinos in Africa as other endangered species.

The UNDP Leader and former New Zealand Prime Minister told the media that local communities in Tanzania and other parts of Africa were the key stakeholders in wildlife conservation but lacked awareness on benefits from conservation.

She said abject poverty among the people living in wildlife protected area in Tanzania and other elephant range states in Africa was a driving force to poaching.

“We should build up community based natural resource management system which would involve the locals in protecting wildlife in their localities. This would bring a meaning and translate the whole idea of conservation hence eradicate elephant poaching and illegal wildlife trade”, she stressed.

“Together we can all work to change the cost-benefit calculation for conservation within communities in tangible terms, through community-based natural resource management and income generating activities”, she said.

“At the government’s request, we will continue to work for coordinated partner responses to help fund the strategy, building on the financial and technical efforts of the Government of Tanzania itself which is leading the roll-out of the efforts to combat poaching”, the UNDP Leader added.

Speaking about the controversial debate in which Tanzania government is looking at international backing to sale its 120 tons of bloody ivory confiscated from poachers and other sources, the UNDP Administrator said the UN agency is ready to assist on bringing together the appropriate parties to manage that process.

Tanzania government has been lobbying for a support from international conservation agencies and other parties to allow it sale by auction its 120 ton ivory stockpile as to collect about US$ 100 million for conservation projects.

While in Tanzania Clark visited Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park, one among the leading parks in Africa breeding big numbers of elephants and unique African wildlife species.

During her day-long tour of the park, Clark visited poor communities in the localities neighboring the park and encouraged them to take a leading role in wildlife conservation.

“Everyone in the community including youth, women and the elderly have a role to play in long-term sustainability of their communities as well as wildlife close to protected areas,” she said.

The UNDP and Global Environmental Facility (GEF) are currently supporting anti-poaching operations in Ruaha.

She warned that tourism will be in danger if poaching continues to haunt wildlife parks in Tanzania and other parts of the African continent.

Tourism is Tanzania’s leading economic venture attracting a good number of tourists and travel trade investments.

Minister for Tourism Lazaro Nyalandu said during his annual budget estimates this week that over 1.1 million tourists visited Tanzania last year and generated US$ 1.8 billion to Tanzanian revenue basket.

Compared to previous year, 2012, there was an increase of 60,000 tourists who visited this country and an increase of US$ one million in tourist gains.

Despite the huge incomes from tourism, poverty has been a daily problem facing communities neighboring wildlife protected areas, driving them to kill wildlife for survival and subsistence living.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area in northern Tanzania had managed to combat poaching and illegal wildlife hunting through active participation of local communities through benefit sharing.

Commonly known as “The Last Garden of Eden”, Ngorongoro had attracted local communities in conservation of wildlife through social and income generating activities which so far, discouraged the locals from killing the wild animals.

Through “Good Neighborliness” initiatives, Ngorongoro Conservation Area stands as a model of a successful wildlife protected are in Africa where conflicts between humans and wild animal are not observed.

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