UNDP: Community involvement crucial in fight against poaching (Tanzania)


The Guardian

Date Published

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has said that community-based natural resource management is a key long-term solution to elephant poaching and illegal wildlife trade. 

According to UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark, communities living near national parks and game reserves are crucial in the fight against poaching and illegal wildlife trade.

“Everyone in a community, including women, youth and the elderly, has a role to play to ensure long term sustainability of their communities and wildlife close to protected areas. Community based initiatives must be supported to generate income for rural people and help diversify incomes through tourism and other service sectors,” she said after meeting with people in the vicinity of Ruaha National Park in Iringa Region yesterday.

The UNDP official met with people from some of the 21 villages adjacent to the park.

According to a communiqué from UNDP availed to the media yesterday, Clark visited Ruaha National Park to witness results of UNDP and Global Environment Facility conservation project focusing on conserving the wildlife and landscape of Tanzania’s Southern Circuit, including Ruaha, Kitulo, Mpanga Kipengere and Mount Rungwe protected areas.

Through UNDP’s support, the project conducted a census that showed that elephants in the Ruaha-Rungwe ecosystem decreased from 31,625 in 2009 to just 20,090 in 2013. 

The project has initiated a number of actions to support the ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism to develop a national strategy to combat wildlife trafficking. 

On Friday last week Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu said the government is in need of assistance from the international community to adequately implement its anti-poaching drive. 

The appeal for help follows government’s preparation of a national anti-
poaching strategy which was to be unveiled last week but will instead be launched in the coming days. 

“We are planning to work with different donors so that they can assist us in this fight. Their involvement is crucial to curbing the problem,” the minister said.

“Poaching didn’t start yesterday. It has been there for decades,” he said.
He said data on poach showed a 54 percent decline in March, this year, compared to the same period last year. 

“Poaching is not all gone… we are still working on it, and as we are here there are some people who are planning to poach but if we cooperate we will win this battle,” said the minister.

The chairman of the parliamentary committee on Lands, Natural Resources and Environment, James Lembeli said people living in the vicinity of conservation areas are poor and need to be empowered so that they can actively participate in the fight against poaching.