By Marc Nkwame in Arusha
KENYA’s latest wildlife census — held just last December – shows the country is currently ‘proud’ home to 7,347 elephants, citing a slight increase in the jumbo’s population.
But Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Ms Judy Wakhungu expressed concern that the country could no longer accommodate wildlife in the wake of an equally rising human population and related activities at the expense of natural reserves.
South of the border, in Tanzania, however where the number of elephants tips the 50,000-mark — which is seven times more than Kenya’s – there’s also more land dedicated to wildlife conservation by a factor six. Dar-es-salaam, according to authorities, has more than enough space to accommodate all wildlife within its borders and works to increase the country’s wildlife eco-system even further.
Tanzania has set aside over 265,000 sq km for wildlife conservation, or equivalent to 27 per cent of its total land area, while neighbouring Kenya to the north has just 44,600 sq km accounting for only 7.5 per cent of the country’s land mass.
The Director General for the newly established Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority Dr James Wakibara says here that, TAWA, which runs 28 game reserves and 46 Game Controlled Areas, so far covers over 200,000 sq km of land.
And, that’s discounting the 16 National Parks manned by the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) as well as the Ngorongoro Conservation beingConservation Area Authority (NCAA). Altogether, the 16 National Parks across the nation together cover an area of nearly 57,000 sq km while the Ngorongoro Conservation Area itself sits on an area measuring 8292 sq km.
In addition to National Parks, Game Reserves and Game Controlled Areas, Tanzania is establishing community-based Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) where villages pool land to create areas in which wildlife can thrive so that local residents could benefit from tourism activities.
Currently, there are 38 WMAs across the country, all at different stages of development of which 17 WMAs have attained Authorised Association (AAs) status. These will further add more land for wildlife in Tanzania. Tanzania has also gazetted nearly 20m ha of forests as forest reserves as well as 4.1m ha this are managed under Participatory Forest Management.