Daily News via AllAfrica

November 13, 2020
The USAID Promoting Tanzania’s Environment, Conservation and Tourism (Protect) project has paid dividends after five years as the number of wildlife crime dropped significantly.

The five-year $19.1m project held a live-webinar celebration for strengthening the country’s conservation efforts on Thursday.

The digital event, “Celebrating USAID Protect: Five Years of Conserving Tanzanian Wildlife,” highlighted successes of the project, including how it contributed to reducing poaching in the country by 80 per cent, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.

USAID Acting Mission Director V. Kate Somvongsiri said many of the project interventions would leave the lasting foundation for Tanzania’s conservation because it engaged national level membership bodies and locally-based companies to leverage their influence and assets for conservation efforts.

“This has resulted in the preservation of more than 300,000 hectares of biologically significant areas and a considerable reduction in poaching and unregulated fishing,” said Ms Somvongsiri, who opened the webinar.

USAID Protect was conceived in the middle of a poaching crisis in the country with a loss of 60 per cent of the country’s elephant population between 2009 and 2014 alone.

To effectively address this problem, the project used an innovative approach involving not only traditional conservation partners, but also Tanzania’s Parliament, Judiciary, the private sector, and the media.

As a result, Tanzania was better prepared to fight against poaching at all levels although stronger wildlife crime policies, a better understanding of how to identify wildlife trafficking and try wildlife crimes.

The project supported various targeted initiatives, such as interregional exchange programmes and training to fight against this multifaceted and organised crime.

USAID Protect partnered with Tanzania to improve a policy framework on wildlife corridors through the development of its historic wildlife conservation regulations (wildlife corridors, dispersal areas, buffer zones and migratory routes), as well as the wildlife corridors’ assessment prioritisation and action plan.

This will ensure that wildlife movement corridors, dispersal areas, and buffer zones are secured to allow wildlife to freely move between protected areas.

As part of preparing future managers of natural resources, the USAID Protect supported three wildlife training institutions under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism namely the College of African Wildlife Management – Mweka, Pasiansi Wildlife Training Institute, and Likuyu Sekamaganga Community-Based Conservation Training Centre.

In collaboration with the project, the colleges developed key institutional documents, including strategic plans, business plans, and fundraising strategies.

These foundational documents are key to ensuring an effective learning environment that can produce knowledgeable, skilled and committed future conservators.