Tanzania: Prince William Calls for Community Engagement in Wildlife Conservation

UK's Prince William has called for close involvement of local communities in wildlife conservation to intensify anti-poaching crusade in the country.

The Prince made the remarks over the weekend after visiting Mkomazi National Park in Same District, Kilimanjaro Region.

"Active participation of local members surrounding the national parks is vital and can play significant role in the ongoing war against poaching in the country," he said.

The Duke of Cambridge who was on a six-day visit to some African countries met President John Magufuli at the State House last week, pledging to continue supporting Tanzania in its anti-poaching crusade.

Prince William visited Tanzania as president of United for Wildlife, which fights illegal trade in wildlife, and patron of Tusk, which promotes conservation.

His visit to Tanzania was aimed at raising awareness of the Illegal Wildlife Trade conference taking place in London in October, and to learn more about the conservation work taking place in the country.

At Mkomazi National Park, Prince William said he was impressed by tourist attractions he saw and the efforts being made to involve communities in conserving and protecting them.

The royal has already visited Namibia, after landing in Windhoek on Monday. He will visit Kenya, where he proposed to the Duchess of Cambridge, before flying back to the UK.

Prince William, who first visited Tanzania about 20 years ago to sample two world's heritage sites of Serengeti National Park and Selous Game Reserve, pledged to visit the former in the near future.

TANAPA Director General, Dr Allan Kijazi assured Prince William that participation of community members surrounding national parks in conservation activities was high on the TANAPA agenda.

He said TANAPA has been imparting conservation education to local communities, cooperating with them in identifying their needs and link them with various institutions in a bid to resolve their crosscutting challenges.

"The number of national parks in the country is set to increase to 21 from the existing 16," he said. The process of upgrading seven game reserves into parks, which are all in Kagera Region, is in good progress," he said.

On her part, Same District Commissioner Rosemary Senyamule said the district was in the process of setting up strategic plan to promote tourist attractions including Mkomazi National park in order to reap more benefits from the sector.

A long serving conservationist at the game sanctuary, Mr Tonny Fitzjohn, who is the co-founder of Mkomazi National Park and Chief Executive of the game sanctuary, said the number of wildlife animals in the park, particularly rhinos, was increasing each year.

Mkomazi National Park Warden, Mr Abel Mtui said apart from the achievements registered at Mkomazi, the park was still facing a number of challenges, including long dry spells and dwindling water catchment areas.

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