Endangered Species and Endangered Communities
Dar es Salaam. The government has created a basket fund for wildlife conservation to be coordinated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the creation of the fund to be known as Tanzania Wildlife Conservation Basket Fund was signed in Dar es Salaam by the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Lazaro Nyalandu and the UNDP Country Director for Tanzania, Mr Phillippe Poinsot at the end of a two-day conference which addressed the elephant poaching crisis in the country over the weekend.
The signing of the MoU was witnessed by the Prime Minister, Mr Mizengo Pinda, the UNDP Administrator, Ms Helen Clark, top diplomats accredited to Tanzania and stakeholders in wildlife conservation from across the world.
“This fund will create the most credible mechanism upon which development partners and other stakeholders will be able to support wildlife conservation efforts,” Mr Nyalandu told The Citizen in an interview shortly of the signing of the MoU.
The minister added: “The fund will be transparent and it will be implemented by an independent board that will oversee wildlife conservation projects to be approved by the wildlife strategic plan.”
He said development partners will be contributing to the fund.
Ms Clark said UNDP was prepared to support the government of Tanzania at its request to assess the size of its ivory stockpile, and, with government, to bring together the appropriate parties to manage that process.
“We are also committed to playing a convening role in the creation of an inter-ministerial unit to enhance co-ordination and co-operation within government on addressing wildlife crime,” she said.
The UNDP administrator added that her organization was also willing to assist in the development of the appropriate mechanisms and establishment of a basket fund to support the government’s lead role in wildlife conservation. She said the poaching crisis posed development, environmental and security challenges. She said the social and economic benefits of conservation of wildlife in Tanzania’s parks and reserves should be going to local communities and the nation.
Community-based tourism, jobs in wildlife and park management, and government revenue-sharing from tourism can all help reduce poverty and inequality, including for women, youth, and marginalised groups, said Ms Clark.
She said: “The illegal trade, however, benefits lawbreakers who are often not from the local community, with the big profits flowing to sinister criminal syndicates.”
The two-day conference on Stopping Wildlife Crime and Advancing Wildlife Conservation: A Call to Action, agreed on a number of issues, including the establishment of the Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA) to streamline wildlife management in wildlife areas outside core protected areas.
The conference also agreed on the establishment of a code of conduct and enforcement board to regulate the professional conduct of rangers and expansion of the current anti-poaching task force to an inter-ministerial task force for wildlife management in the country.
It also agreed on the establishment of an ivory registry for record keeping and secure storage of ivory stockpiles and improvement of co-ordination and governance of community engagement in wildlife conservation.
At the same time, countries across the world, including China, Germany, Norway, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union, over the weekend pledged to support Tanzania in the fight against poaching and illicit trade in wildlife.
The countries expressed their support during the conference with the Chinese ambassador to Tanzania, Lu Youqing, saying Tanzania needed support because the country has worked hard in enhancing wildlife protection, including elephants. The Chinese envoy said Tanzania should strengthen and enforce wildlife laws in order to mete out heavy punishment for poachers.
“In China we have toughened laws on wildlife trafficking and this is working very positively in dealing with the offenders,” Lu told the conference which ended on Saturday.
Lu said China will work hand in hand with the international community towards the protection and conservation of wildlife.
The German ambassador to Tanzania, Hans Koeppel, paid tribute to the government of Tanzania for its plans to employ over 900 game rangers and the establishment of an independent wildlife authority. However, he said there was need for Tanzanian authorities to review their wildlife policies to allow local communities to fully participate in wildlife conservation.
“Game rangers and guns alone will not end poaching. There is need to involve communities,” said the German envoy.
The Japanese ambassador to Tanzania, Kazuyoshi Matsunaga, said Tanzania needed full backing in its anti-poaching crusade because poaching and illegal trafficking in wildlife was a threat to international security.
Mr Nyalandu thanked the international community for showing their commitment towards helping Tanzania to end poaching which is alarmingly high.
“Your commitment is more than writing a cheque. What we are looking at is beyond money,” the minister said.
The conference was held against the backdrop of reports of killings of elephants in Tanzania’s game reserves and national parks. On Friday, Nyalandu said the government of Tanzania will employ 435 of the new game scouts in May 2014 and 500 by July 2014. He said apart from recruiting the 935 game wardens the government of Tanzania will acquire two patrol helicopters to boost the fight against poachers.
According to the Tanzania Elephant Protection Society, around 30 elephants are killed for their ivory every day, that is, around 11,000 each year.
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