Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu has reiterated the pivotal role of people living in the vicinity of national parks in helping the government curb poaching activities.
The minister was of the view that people living in the vicinity of national parks and reserved areas could be the source of information if they participated exclusively in the war against poaching.
Nyalandu made the remarks yesterday when speaking to journalists soon after he was briefed on the new Southern Highlands and Ruaha-Katavi Protection Programme (SHARPP) which is being implemented by an institution dubbed Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) at the Ruaha National Park.
The minister noted that some elephants and other wild animals are being killed outside the parks by the ordinary citizens, but he was adamant that once they are well educated and involved in the matter, the killings could plummet tremendously.
He explained that citizens’ participation could be through the establishment of Wildlife Management Areas (WMA).
“Some areas with effective WMAs have succeeded to reduce the killings… this should go hand in hand with trainings of the people residing near the areas on how to start small businesses such as beekeeping,” he said.
The minister noted that the Southern part of Tanzania has many elephants compared to other areas; he therefore insisted on the need to protect them for the benefits of the region and the nation at large.
Director General of WCS Tanzania, Dr Tim Daverport said through the project they will be able to trace people entering the parks illegally.
He said they will also conduct entrepreneurship trainings for the residents near the national parks on how to start small businesses so that they can stop considering killing the wild animals as their source of income.
Meanwhile, the United States Ambassador to Tanzania, Mark Childress said through SHARPP and WMA projects, challenges of poaching are likely to be reduced.
Speaking on behalf of the Director General of the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), Dr Ezekiel Dembe said the new initiatives will boost the country’s tourism sector.
The SHARPP project which is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) at a tune of USD 8.2 million will be implemented for five years.
The project will also be supported by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the government, local non-governmental organisations and the local communities.
SHARPP will focus on four key areas namely, wildlife management areas, livelihoods, habitat management and elephant monitoring and protection.
The programme reaffirms the commitment from all parties to succeed in the fight against poaching.