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Conservationists are celebrating the recent launch of the Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA). Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete announced the inauguration of TAWA on October 18th in Dar es Salaam. The new authority is responsible for building the country’s capacity to fight growing wildlife challenges.
Tanzania has been considering establishing a body like TAWA for many years. Wildlife management was previously decentralized, with responsibility split between several government agencies and community-based organizations. Tanzania National Parks, Tanzania Wildlife Division and the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute all shared accountability for different aspects of wildlife management in different areas of the country, with no clear designation of an overall authority.
In addition to government-managed protected areas, local communities autonomously manage some conservation areas in Tanzania. For example, the famous Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area is managed by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, which represents the interests of the indigenous Maasai community. Community-managed Wildlife Management Areas (WMA’s) are patrolled by Village Game Scouts selected from local communities. The establishment of TAWA will better enable communities to protect and manage their wildlife in partnership with the government.
Tanzania ranks among the world’s top countries in protection of wildlife habitat, having declared over a third of the nation’s total land base area as protected areas. These protected areas represent a mixture of game reserves, national parks, marine parks, and forest reserves. Wildlife is also found in abundance across Tanzania’s private and communally owned lands outside of these designated areas. With such a diverse mix of land tenures, management of wildlife in Tanzania has always been a challenge for the country’s various agencies. The formation of a single governmental agency with overall authority over wildlife should streamline conservation efforts and facilitate more effective wildlife management.
The Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority is responsible for conserving wildlife on an area of nearly 40 million acres, making the protection of wildlife species and the restoration of habitat a challenging task. TAWA is being directed to increase the number of anti-poaching and wildlife law enforcement personnel. They will begin by hiring 500 wildlife professionals to fill the employment gap in the country’s conservation sector.
The establishment of TAWA should improve science-based wildlife management and increase capacity for conservation in Tanzania. Conservationists and the Tanzanian government are eager to see results from the newly formed organization.
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