Realizing the crucial roles that Wildlife Management Areas play in the involvement of local communities in conservation, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism recently conducted training programs targeting WMA leaders.
The Director of Wildlife Management from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Rose Mdendemi said the training was among the ongoing efforts by the ministry to improve the conservation sector through community involvement.
Held in Singida Region, the special workshop was intended to equip the Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) leaders and other officials with governing skills to empower them to best manage, supervise and improve wildlife resources in their localities.
The WMA workshop in Singida was organized under the auspices of the Illegal Wildlife Trade Project (IWT), an organization which combats illegal wildlife trade.
It was attended by representatives of WMAs from Chamwino District of Dodoma and Waga district of Iringa region, in the southern highlands.
While almost all countries that are members of the East African Community have National Parks and Game Reserves, it is only Tanzania which has established Wildlife Management Areas, the protected entities operated by local villagers through their respective local councils.
Official figures from the Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA) indicate that there are 38 active Wildlife Management Areas currently operating in Tanzania.
The WMAs occupy around 6.2 million hectares of land, accounting for nearly 7 percent of the total country area.
Experts say the Wildlife Management Areas play an important role in maintaining migratory habitat for wildebeests, zebras, oryx, elands, gazelles and other ungulates.
Wildlife Management Areas conserve landscape connectivity and allow wild animals the freedom to roam between parks.
WMAs also serve as connectivity routes playing the role of melting pots between humans, especially nomadic livestock keepers and wildlife.
The concept of Wildlife Management Areas started the 1990s as a new legal framework for communities to protect, manage and benefit from wildlife and other natural resources on village land outside of Protected Areas.
WMAs are also mandated to conduct anti-poaching activities and manage tourism investment processes.