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Tanzania plans a new wildlife authority

According to media reports Tanzanian Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki the Tanzanian is collecting views from wildlife stakeholders on the establishment of the Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA). TAWA appears to be intended as similar to TAWICO (Tanzania Wildlife Corporation – hunting company) of the past.

 

According to AllAfrica.com the minister, when opening a meeting aimed at getting views and advice from personnel who served in the Ministry, said: "We are expecting to complete the process of collecting views from stakeholders, leaders and the citizens on the plan by November this year." The Minister is quoted to have said that the plan will be endorsed by Members of Parliament during the November parliamentary sessions.

 

The Minister said that the establishment of the authority will enable the review of the current wildlife Act that has weaknesses towards better management of the wildlife conservations. "The review of the Act will enable the Authority take action and penalize those involved in the wildlife poaching accordingly,". He also noted that review of the Act will enable the Authority promote involvement of local communities participations in wildlife conservations.

 

Industry role players indicated to the AHG that they hoped that the step would improve the situation on the ground. It is said that in 1965, when Tanzania’s wildlife population was higher than today, there were 47 hunting blocks. By 1997, the number increased to over 140 hunting blocks. At the same time, the number of hunting companies increased from 9 in 1984 to 42 by 2004, and according to the Wengert email in 2013, around 52 hunting companies. The increase in hunting blocks was a combination of opening up new areas to hunting combined with subdivision of existing hunting blocks. For instance, in the late 1980s and through the mid-1990s, both Southern Maasailand and the Northern Maasailand hunting concessions were first subdivided; Southern Maasailand from 2 to 8 hunting blocks and Northern Maasiland from 2 to 6 hunting blacks. Moyowosi South hunting block was split into 2 in 2001, then reconstituted into 1 block and now apparently subdivided again. Subdivisions of hunting blocks continues to the point that many are too small for viable hunting.  As an example Mto wa Mbu and Lake Natron are no longer viable for plains game (e.g., zebra, eland, Grants & Thomson gazelles, lesser kudu, etc.) as there are about 6 Hunting Blocks from Mto wa Mbu to Gelai Rumba up to the border with Kenya.  This is also said to be the case with Moyowosi and Muhesi.

 

In all cases and continuing until today, it appears that in the subdivided hunting blocks, the old quotas for the single block were given to each of the new subdivided blocks, resulting in quotas being multiplied by as many as four times or more for short-term economic gain with little or no biological/empirical data to justify these subdivisions or to determine if they were/are sustainable. In addition to safari hunting quotas, quotas were given for game capture and game cropping in many blocks, as well as resident hunters quotas. This has resulted in a major drop in Tanzania’s trophy quality because of too high a harvest rate. While some increases in quotas may have been acceptable, certainly not to the extremes, as noted above.

 

It is expected that TAWA will have its hands full.  Like any organization, its ability to manage wildlife will depend on the moral integrity of those who run it. The new director of TAWA will have to take a very close look at the implications of hunting block subdivisions and quota multiplications.  If they are to take place they must be based upon credible scientific data and recommendations coming out of the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) in collaboration with TAHOA (Tanzania Hunting Operators Association).