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Conservation letter

Towards sustainable Wildlife Management Areas in Tanzania [ 103-116 ]

Wilfred Paolo

Within the last few years, Tanzania has witnessed mushrooming growth of “wildlife management areas” (WMAs). These are broadly meant to halt (or reduce) loss of wildlife populations, and ensure that local people benefit from their conservation. However, human pressure is rapidly increasing and causing management problems in the WMAs. Some human land-use activities also limit wildlife dispersal, potentially destabilizing wildlife population dynamics. In addition, poor resource use diversification and lack of creativity constrain sustainable use of natural resources in the WMAs; consequently, their contribution to sustainable livelihoods is seriously undermined. A key question is how WMAs can be a sustainable and competitive land-use option that meets their predetermined objectives? Without doubt, a road map to sustainable WMAs should responsibly engage the government, non-governmental organizations, and community-based organizations in a joint effort towards realization of simple and flexible WMAs establishment process, quality wildlife habitat, and reduced human pressure on the wildlife resources, as well as successful and sustainable wildlife-based enterprises.

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    English: Current approaches to natural resources conservation emphasize active participation of local communities in conservation activities. Participation in conservation issues (or in other words participatory conservation), is a joint initiative of the governments, local communities and other stakeholders such as non-governmental organizations. A good example of the initiatives associated with participatory conservation can be vividly witnessed in the introduction of wildlife management areas (WMAs) especially in most African countries. WMAs are areas of community land in which local people have usage rights over the wildlife resources. It is envisaged that through WMAs local people will develop the sense of wildlife ownership, and realize actual and potential benefits of wildlife conservation. This paper presents some factors that need to be given due attention in the current interest in WMAs in Tanzania, and indeed elsewhere in Africa. Generally, the following issues are highlighted: historical background of WMAs in Tanzania, destruction of the wildlife habitat due to human land-use activities such as agriculture in the areas with WMA projects; human population density in relation to wildlife resource use-pressure; natural resource use diversification and access considerations in the wildlife management areas; finally, the paper recommends the following: simplification of the WMAs’ formation process in order to quicken and promote positive outcomes from their predetermined objectives; frequent monitoring in the areas with WMA projects; the need to promote conservation awareness amongst local communities; local capacity building towards ensuring sustainable access and utilization of the natural resources in the WMAs.

    Español: Tomado en cuenta que los enfoques actuales de conservación de los recursos naturales en el trópico enfatizan la participación de las comunidades locales, Paolo Wilfred examina el funcionamiento de las unidades de conservación denominadas áreas de manejo de vida silvestre (Widlife Management Areas - WMAs) en Tanzania. Las WMAs son territorios comunales en donde la gente tiene derechos de uso sobre la vida silvestre y se asume que a través del concepto de WMA, la gente local desarrollará un sentido de propiedad, visualizando así el valor y beneficios potenciales de la conservación de los recursos naturales presentes en estas unidades. Así, el trabajo de Paolo Wilfred comenta sobre varios factores que inciden de modo importante sobre la conservación de la vida silvestre y en el funcionamiento de las WMAs en Tanzania y en otros países del subsahara Africano. Estos factores son los antecedentes históricos de las WMAs, la destrucción de los hábitats naturales debido a sistemas de uso del suelo de naturaleza agrícola, la densidad de la población humana como presión para la persistencia de la vida silvestre como recurso y la diversificación de uso de los recursos naturales y acceso a estos en las unidades de conservación. El autor recomienda un monitoreo frecuente de las WMAs, promover la conciencia de los habitantes locales hacia la conservación y promover el uso razonado de los recursos naturales en las WMAs asi como el incremento de la capacidad técnica a nivel local, para asegurar un acceso y uso sustentable de los recursos naturales en las WMAs.
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   Tropical Conservation Science is an open-access e-journal that publishes research relating to conservation of tropical forests and other tropical ecosystems.

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