The details of this remain to be published but look like a sop to conservation and animal rights NGOs who oppose the hydro-electric project. Where hunting is to be curtailed, is there the terrain and infrastructure for high-cost tourism (which is the basis of tourism to Selous)? Or are they the hunting blocks currently vacant? The danger is that if hunting blocks are supposed to be turned over to tourism but they are unsuitable, tsetse-infested or for some reason there is no tourist uptake, then they will by default fall into disrepair with poor facilities (not unknown already in Tanzania), no anti-poaching and growing human encroachment so that they become low return farming areas with little income produced for people and total loss of wildlife. I wouldn’t trust Magufuli an inch. One very well placed specialist has told me that, “The simple fact is that the whole area north of the Rujiji, which might now become a NP has not been hunted for the last 20 years. Insofar nothing will change.” In other words, Magufuli appearing to act to calm some NGO complaints over both hunting and the dam by saying he is reducing hunting, when the areas to be redesignated have not been hunted over for decades.KS
DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Friday ordered the sprawling Selous Game Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to be split in two to restrict the access of big game hunters.
Covering 50,000 sq km (19,000 sq miles), the Selous reserve is one of the largest protected areas in Africa, and is famed for its elephants, lions, black rhinos, hippos and giraffes.
About 8% of the Selous, which is larger than Switzerland, is dedicated to photo-tourism while the rest is a hunting reserve.
“Tourists come here and kill our lions, but we don’t benefit a lot from these wildlife hunting activities,” Magufuli said.
“I want the Selous Game Reserve to be split into two. A bigger area of the wildlife sanctuary on the upper side should be turned into a national park where hunting activities are not permitted.”
Magufuli said some 47 hunting blocks licensed to tourist hunting companies would be allowed to continue to operate in the lower part of the game reserve.
He did not specify the size of either area but said the move would “preserve our wildlife species and boost the growth of the tourism sector”.
Tourism is the main source of hard currency in Tanzania, which is known for its beaches, wildlife safaris and Mount Kilimanjaro.
The sector brought in $2.43 billion last year, up from $2.19 billion in 2017, according to government data.
Magufuli made his announcement at the inauguration of construction work for the $3 billion Rufiji hydroelectric project at Stiegler’s Gorge, inside the Selous reserve.
The World Wildlife Fund said the proposed dam would put the site and the livelihoods of over 200,000 people at risk, and that UNESCO had warned that any resulting damage would put the Selous’s status of World Heritage Site at risk.
Magufuli said the project would take up only 3 percent of the wildlife sanctuary.
“Tanzania is among global leaders in conservation activities, having allocated over 32 percent of our country’s total land to conservation,” he said. “Nobody can teach us about conservation.”
Editing by Katharine Houreld and Kevin Liffey