73bn/- boost for landscape conservation in western Tanzania

TANZANIA: TANZANIA has received an encouraging stimulus as the United States of America pumps in 29.5 million US dollars equivalent to 73.8bn/- for landscape conservation in western part of Tanzania.

The landscape conservation includes protecting endangered chimpanzee populations through effective land use planning, and empowering local communities.

Partnering with the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), the Landscape Conservation in Western Tanzania (LCWT) activity works to protect endangered chimpanzee populations, safeguard their habitat through effective land use planning, and empower local communities by supporting more productive and sustainable livelihoods in the Gombe-Masito-Ugalla (GMU) landscape.

The package channeled through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was unveiled at a ceremony held at the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday that was graced by the US Ambassador to Tanzania Mr Michael Battle and the famous English primatologist and anthropologist Dr Jane Goodall who is considered the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees.

Ambassador Battle said the funds are meant for betterment of the environment, save the chimpanzees and see the lives of Tanzanians get better. He insisted of the trust the US government has had on Tanzanians to the extent that the funds will be passed through Tanzanians.

“The 29.5 million US dollars is a major game changer here in Tanzania and it is for Tanzanians through Tanzanians and their development. It will mean creating wealth for them and even increase business in the country,” said Ambassador Battle who is a chaplain, and academic administrator who has previously served as the U.S. Ambassador to the African Union (AU).

He showed gratitude to Dr Goodall who studied well the social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees and first went to Gombe National Park in Tanzania to observe its chimpanzees in 1960.

Speaking at the function, Dr Goodall (89) thanked the U.S. for huge support it has been offering to institutions she initiated, to wit, the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) and the Roots & Shoots programme, working extensively on conservation and animal welfare issues.

She called upon Tanzanians, young and old to engage more in environmental conservation to make sure chimpanzees are safe and people led good life. She told the huge gathering of how endangered chimpanzees had been as people were clearing forest for agriculture and cutting trees for timber and charcoal, challenges that need to be addressed with concerted efforts.

She insisted of the need for stakeholders to ensure that people have good health, get quality education and food. The GMU landscape, located in Western Tanzania, harbors over 90 per cent of Tanzania’s estimated 2,200 chimpanzees.

USAID, in its media release, said that this important population of chimpanzees is facing increasing threats due to habitat loss and fragmentation from illegal logging, settlement expansion, and conversion of habitat for agricultural purposes.

Chimpanzees are also directly at risk from nearby human communities through disease transmission and human-wildlife conflict. Underlying these threats, rapidly growing human populations in Western Tanzania were depleting natural resources and expanding unsustainable land use practices.

These issues, paired with inadequate capacity of local government to effectively manage natural resources, have limited conservation outcomes.

Guided by JGI-led chimpanzee conservation action plans at regional and national scales, the LCWT activity will increase the organization’s reach from 74 villages to 104 in the Kigomaand Uvinza districts in the Kigoma region, and the Mpanda and Tanganyika districts in the Katavi region. This includes the former refugee settlements in Katumba and Mishamo.

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