By Orton Kiishweko
Tanzania is to benefit from a new European Union (EU) initiative aimed at minimizing the illegal killing of elephants and other endangered species.
The Programme Officer- Climate Change and Environment at the EU Delegation to Tanzania, Maria Chiara Femiano, said in Dar es Salaam that this would be part of their efforts to continue enhancing the work done under the Minimising the Illegal Killing of Elephants and other Endangered Species (MIKES) programme. She revealed this during the launch of the European Year for Development on Wednesday.
She noted that since 2001, the European Union had supported the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in the implementation of the MIKE (Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants) Programme, which came to an end in 2014.
"With the aim to build capacity of elephant range states to deploy law enforcement monitoring and ranger-based data collection systems, MIKE worked with rangers, conservation area managers, wildlife authorities and decision makers across 30 range states in Africa and around 60 sites," she said.
Four of these sites are found in Tanzania, namely Selous-Mikumi-Udzungwa, Ruaha-Rungwa, Katavi-Rukwa and Tarangire.
The European Union also provides significant financial contribution to the International Consortium to Combat Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), a multilateral effort involving key partners such as UNODC, CITES, World Bank, INTERPOL and the World Customs Organisation.
One of the latest countries requesting support through the ICCWC to carry out need assessments in the areas of legislation, law enforcement, judiciary capacity and prosecution for wildlife and timber crime is Tanzania.
Ms Chiara Femiano said the 11th European Development Fund regional programme would include actions at the cross-regional level, particularly to strengthen the management of Trans-Frontier Conservation Areas (TFCA) and law enforcement in Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean.
According to her, the actions would be a combination of wildlife conservation and community development across entire ecosystems, covering more than one national territory, including Tanzania.
Speaking at the launch, the European Union Ambassador to Tanzania and the East African Community, Filiberto Ceriani Sebregondi, said the EU was currently funding 6 projects in rural Tanzania aiming at fostering local communities' livelihood.
This was by strengthening their role and involvement in the implementation and enforcement of national environmental legislation and by empowering them to be owners and managers of their natural resources, including wildlife. This year has been declared the European Year for Development.