Manyara — THE government will strive to win the fight against poaching, despite being a big challenge.
Addressing residents of Burunge in Manyara Region, during the launch of the Burunge Wildlife Management Area (WMA) visitors' centre, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki, said poaching is a big challenge but the government will fight to safeguard elephants and other wild animals for future generations.
"Poaching is a big challenge; they have a huge network but we cannot afford to fail in this fight, we cannot give the victory to poachers, we need to stand firm, with support from other stakeholders and at the end of the day, it will be a victory for the future generation," Ambassador Kagasheki noted.
He said WMAs are among ways to contain poaching since communities managing them will ensure they are protected. The minister explained that the government through his ministry intends to host a conference in the country, on the future of African elephants, whose main agenda is to bring the whole world to Tanzania and Africa in general, in the fight against poaching.
He explained that the US government receives 600bn/- in revenue and 6 million employment opportunities yearly from visitors visiting protected areas, such as parks, adding it would help Tanzania to do the same, to generate revenue that will boost the national economy.
"We should reach a point and become self sufficient, and have the public benefit from their natural resources and on the issue of anti-poaching, we also need to amend our laws to provide for severe punishments and fines," he explained.
He thanked the US government through USAID for its support not only in the establishment of WMAs, but also in other areas including review of different laws and policies governing tourism and wildlife.
The guest of honour at the event, the US deputy secretary, department of Interior, Mr David Hayes, who took pride in the US government support in establishing Burunge WMAs, which is part of five other similar WMAs being launched today, said there is an ominous storm cloud threatening the success of WMAs. Mr Hayes said the potential for the continued success of the WMAs is threatened by wildlife poaching in Tanzania.
"Armed poachers pose a threat to human life, a threat to wildlife and a threat to tourism, I am here to say that we all loseÉ and lose badly if poachers win," he stressed. He underscored the importance of local communities as the first line of defence against the terrible threat to elephants and other targeted wild animals.
"You the people of Burunge WMAÉ the elected members of the Authorized Association, the village scouts who bravely patrol the WMA and face poachers and the residents of Burunge village, must be vigilant against what might undermine your achievements," he explained.
The US Ambassador to Tanzania, Alfonso Lenhardt, said WMAs represent a critical contribution to a wider effort to decrease the impact of wildlife poaching. He said the US government has supported WMAs in Tanzania since 1998, to decentralize management responsibility and authority for control of wildlife habitat within village lands into the hands of local communities around the area.
"With Tanzania's unique richness in wildlife and natural resources, WMAs have become among the most important approaches that communities can use to capture the benefits of wildlife and other natural resources, at the same time conserve their natural resources, environment and better manage their land," he explained.
As of June 2012 Tanzania had 17 WMAs which are gazette with user rights and an additional 21 WMAs at various stages of development.