Tanzania: Joy As Unesco Retains Selous Status

TANZANIA has vowed to cooperate with global conservation agencies in retaining the status of the mighty Selous Game Reserve as a World Heritage Site. This comes after the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) yesterday dropped its plan of delisting the majestic Reserve from its famed list.

Delivering Tanzania's position before the 44th extended session of the World Heritage Committee here yesterday, Tourism and Natural Resources Permanent Secretary Allan Kijazi said the country was ready to cooperate with global conservation agencies, noting that some of the agencies had erred in their collection of facts.

According to Dr Kijazi, Tanzanian had identified some misinformation in the reports compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the World Heritage Center, as the two mulled over plans of delisting Selous from the World Heritage Site list.

"As a country, we are ready to cooperate with the respective missions, to collect facts on the ground, so that the misinformation that has been reflected by the IUCN and the center are normalised," he explained.

The Permanent Secretary admitted to have identified a number of flaws on plans of expunging the Selous among World Heritage Sites. "We see a lot of flaws, in terms of procedures and the context of the substance of the matter," said the PS.

Dr Kijazi, however, noted that the country had taken note of the challenges that come with conserving and managing the Game Reserve, whose part has been allocated for the ongoing construction of the Julius Nyerere Hydro-power Station (JNHPP) to generate 2,115 Megawatts of electricity.

He said: "We understand that the situation is currently challenging, we will accommodate the challenges at the right time."

Dr Kijazi further informed the session that Tanzania was currently finalising a General Management Plan (GMP) for the remaining 88 per cent of the one of the largest protected areas in Africa.

The UN agency has in the recent past warned that rampant elephant poaching, as well as the sale of logging rights and a dam project on the Rufiji River, could cause "irreversible damage."

Tanzania's famed Selous Game Reserve was among seven hotspots added to the UN body's 'Danger List' and could be delisted entirely, as both human action and natural disasters threaten the character of these special places. Weighing on the country's feat, the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) Chief Executive Officer Sirili Akko thanked UNESCO for acknowledging that human development is equally important.

"We appreciate and laud the responsible ministry for painstakingly working to protect our natural resources, carrying in their hearts for the delicate interests of development and conservation," said Mr Akko.

On its part, the Tanzanian Embassy in France was also elated by the decision reached at the 44th extended session of the World Heritage Committee.

Selous was established in 1922, and in 1982 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to its rich diversity of wildlife and uninterrupted nature. It was named after Frederick Selous, a naturalist, explorer, and soldier.

Large numbers of elephants, black rhinoceroses, cheetahs, giraffes, hippopotamuses and crocodiles live in this immense sanctuary, which measures 50,000 square kilometer.

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