Wildlife protection in Tanzania
Tourism and tourist protected wildlife parks in Tanzania today, no doubt at all, are thriving because of the efforts of the former Tanzania President, Dr. Julius Nyerere, who championed conservation of wildlife and spearheaded tourism development in this African nation.
Being a number one wildlife conservator in the history of Tanzania, the founding father of this African nation worked seriously to ensure that wildlife protection was a priority issue in his political agenda than any other elected leader of Tanzania.
Dr. Nyerere’s commitment and hate of corrupt practices brought Tanzania among few nations of the world with remarkable records in flora and fauna conservation.
Shortly before Tanzania achieved its fully governance from British rule way back in 1961, Dr. Nyerere issued the famous Arusha Manifesto which is the milestone guide of nature conservation in Tanzania, also to be copied by other African countries boastful of wildlife.
The Arusha manifesto is a document that Dr. Nyerere signed in Tanzania’s sprawling northern tourist city of Arusha in wildlife rich Arusha region.
He announced the Arusha manifesto on wildlife and nature conservation on the eve of Tanzania’s independence, henceforth, set the stage upon which the future of wildlife conservation and protection and policies guiding nature conservation were formulated.
The manifesto was signed just three months before this African destination became an independent African nation. With his team of new African leaders, Dr. Nyerere was quoted in the Arusha Manifesto saying: “The survival of our wildlife is a matter of grave concern to all of us in Africa. These wild creatures amid the wild places they inhabit are not only important as a source of wonder and inspiration but are an integral part of our natural resources and our future livelihood and wellbeing.
“In accepting the trusteeship of our wildlife we solemnly declare that we will do everything in our power to make sure that our children’s grand-children will be able to enjoy this rich and precious inheritance. The conservation of wildlife and wild places calls for specialist knowledge, trained manpower, and money, and we look to other nations to co-operate with us in this important task – the success or failure of which not only affects the continent of Africa but the rest of the world as well,” Dr. Nyerere was quoted in this famous wildlife conservation and protection guiding document.
The Arusha Manifesto was Dr. Nyerere’s personal initiative and commitment to conserve and protect wildlife in his young nation.
Through his commitment to develop Tanzania as a nature-based tourist destination, Dr. Nyerere established, signed and spearheaded development of 12 national parks, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and several wildlife reserves.
It had encouraged the signing of the Wildlife Conservation Act aimed to protect wild animals and their natural habitat. The Wildlife Conservation Act has been a crucial document to ensure total survival of wildlife in Tanzania.
Standing as the biggest country in East Africa, Tanzania under the leadership of Dr. Nyerere devoted to develop tourism, aiming to become a number one tourist destination in Africa, mostly wildlife based photographic safaris.
Covering a geographical area of 945,000 kilometers, Tanzania has devoted 28 percent of the country’s land for nature and wildlife conservation, under Dr. Nyerere’s leadership.
Soon after independence, Dr. Nyerere worked hard to ensure that Serengeti National Park in northern Tanzania was developed and conserved forever as one of the world’s leading protected areas.
He issued several orders to unsure that Serengeti National Park remains a place of natural wonders for the benefit of the present and future generations, not only in Tanzania, but for Africa and the entire world.
In Ngorongoro Conservation Area where the tourist famous Ngorongoro Crater is located, Dr. Nyerere took over a number of conservation activities, while looking seriously the welfare of the Maasai people who are living peaceful with wildlife in the area, sharing the pastureland.
In January 1981, Dr. Nyerere joined and led a big gathering of people including foreign tourists and wildlife conservationists to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee (50 years) of the Serengeti National Park, the oldest wildlife conserved area in Tanzania.
Serengeti National Park covers a total area of 14,763 kilometers, making it the biggest wildlife park in East Africa and the most unique park in the world by its picturesque annual wildebeest migration.
When Tanzania is going without Dr. Nyerere, poaching of elephants and rhinos, trade in bloody ivory and trafficking of live animals are the order of the day.
Lack of commitment, corruption and selfishness among key players in wildlife including conservators, political leaders and security operatives had so far reduced elephant and rhino population in Tanzania.
During the past 10 years, one third of Tanzania’s elephants have been slaughtered. Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism estimate that
10,000 elephants are being killed annually in Tanzania.
It’s estimated that 30,000 elephants have been butchered in Tanzania’s spectacular Selous Game Reserve between 2006 and 2009.
When Dr. Nyerere took political powers in 1961, Tanzania had about
350,000 elephants and that the number has reduced to 110,000 up to 2009. In 1974 there were about 700 black Rhinoceros in Tanzania but their number had dropped to less than 100 animals (rhinos) today.
Between 2010 and July 2013 more than 1,386 elephants were killed in Tanzania for illegal, bloody ivory business.
The increasing and shocking reports of illegal poaching on elephants and Rhinoceros in most national parks had forced the current president Mr. Jakaya Kikwete to announce tough measure targeting poachers.
He said in New York last month that he will order the army to join hands with wildlife rangers to combat poaching of elephants and rhinos.
“My government has taken serious steps to curb with illegal poaching in line with the national policy that ordains the regulations and rules set for the sake of fighting poaching activities in the country”, President Kikwete said.
Despite that president Kikwete promised to apply the military in anti-poaching campaigns, independent conservators from Tanzania had questioned authenticity of the stakeholders who are responsible in wildlife protection.
Media reports from Tanzania’s capital of Dar es Salaam had implicated political leaders from the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party to be involved in poaching and trade on bloody ivory.
Independent newspapers have as well, mentioned a section of police, army officers and rangers employed to protect the wildlife in poaching scandals.
Fourteen years after untimely death of Dr. Nyerere, Tanzanians remain firm with his soul in their hearts. He was a great leader who devoted his time to serve people, regardless of race, ethnicity or any form of discrimination.
Dr. Nyerere has been one the world’s greatest champions of conservation, building an unprecedented awareness in Tanzanians on the value of their natural resources.
He left this African wildlife rich sinking in an abyss of poverty, corruption, poaching, injustice, embezzlement of public funds and abuse of public offices.
Today (Monday) Tanzanians are resting at their homes, praying for this great son of Africa who championed nature and wildlife conservation with full commitment, probably, more than any other leader in this continent.
No one knows the outcome of whether the wild creatures which he devoted to protect in his famous Arusha Manifesto will survive, nor whether this noble role he played will prove everlasting.