Tanzania has identified a total of 61 wildlife corridors that still exist after hundreds of such passageways got blocked by mostly human activities including settlements.
There are 20 wildlife corridors that have so far been earmarked for major restoration, improvement and protection since they happen to be crucial for conservation and the country’s economic advancement in tourism.
Last year, the Government through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism tasked the Arusha-based Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) to make a special survey over the number and state of the wildlife corridors across the country.
Permanent Secretaries from various ministries related to land and conservation sectors, together with other officials from institutions of wildlife have convened in Dodoma to brainstorm on how to professionally translate the formulated strategic plan into reality.
The main focus of the experts’ roundtable forum is to find ways to restore the defunct animal passageways and protect the existing ones while at the same working to solve the increasing cases of Human-Wildlife conflicts.
The Deputy Secretary General in the Prime Minister’s Office, In-charge of Policy, Parliament and Coordination, Anderson Mutatembwa officiated the meeting of experts in Dodoma.
“Delegates are being updated on the common understanding regarding issues pertaining wildlife corridors,” Mutatembwa explained.
“This will help us be in a better and vantage position when planning and implementing important projects in all the sectoral ministries,” he added.
Chief Wildlife Researcher, from the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI), Dr Hamza Kija said most of the wildlife corridors in the country’s Northern circuit have seriously been invaded by human activities, including farms, grazing, settlements and investments.
“With most parts of the wildlife corridors being located far away from protected areas such as National Parks and Game Reserves, it is high time that awareness is raised among members of the community in villages surrounding the connectivity routes,” Kija stated.
Dr Kija explained that the wildlife corridors are of the paramount importance for the welfare of the wildlife animals, but also for the prosperity of the tourism sector, among others.
According to the expert, almost all wildlife corridors that existed in the Mvomero District of Morogoro Region have either been completely destroyed or blocked by human activities.
Ms Fortunata Msoffe, the Acting Director of Wildlife in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, said the strategy being worked out meant to have the wildlife corridors restored to their natural state.
“The target is also to raise awareness towards the communities adjacent to the corridors over the potential of the historical wildlife path,” she said.
Other than restoring wildlife corridors in the country, Tanzania through the country’s priority action plan is also working to unblock similar and critical transboundary connectivity passageways that link to those in the neighbouring countries.
It was observed during the Dodoma Meeting that communities living adjacent to Protected Areas experience important negative impacts from wildlife on their livelihoods and security, and this has become an increasing concern and challenge in recent years.
Wildlife impacts include loss of crops, depredation of livestock, loss of human life and injuries as well as social disruption.
The Proposed National Strategy provides a path forward to increasing security and reducing the costs of human-wildlife coexistence in the short term, and, through addressing the underlying drivers and human dimensions of conflict, building the foundations for sustainable long-term coexistence across the country.
The drivers of human-wildlife conflict (HWC) are multiple, and a holistic approach to the problem is therefore required.
A number of principles guide the approach of this Strategy.
Crucially, management of human-wildlife conflict should focus on empowering communities to initiate and manage mitigation and protection for themselves, and to increase their resilience to wildlife impacts.
This requires training and committed support from Government, NGOs, the private sector and donors. At the same time, the Government is dedicated to protection of its citizens, and the Strategy aims to increase capacity for responding to emergency situations where security is threatened.