Alternative income generating activities is slowly but surely driving away communities residing along the Kwakuchinja Wildlife corridor from illegal harvest of bush meat.
A spot check by a team of Journalists’ Environmental Association of Tanzania (JET), established that women in the area had taken a lead role in shunning the practice, thanks to a number of income generating activities that they’ve replaced with.
Speaking here, a chairperson with Ngoley Women Group, Petronila Gobi attributed the shift to training and awareness exposed to them jointly, by the Community Support Initiatives Tanzania (COSITA) and TRAFFIC, a Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network.
“Our village was synonymous with consumption of bush meat, with our sons and spouses heading out to the wild to illegally hunt down the animals,” Ms Gobi disclosed.
The training on alternative income generating activities saw the demand of bush meat which was disguised as ‘Chinese vegetables’, plummeting in the village, according to Ms Gobi.
“The training has enabled us establish our own community banks while some of us have decided to venture into farming and completely forget about bush meat”, she added.
Much as it was the men who more often than not, set out into the wild to harvest bush meat, it was the women who bore the most brunt.
Narrating her ordeal, Ms Lydia Josephat who is also a member of the women’s group, still recalls how she was locked up after her son brought her a kilo of Zebra meat to the house.
“He had returned from hunting and left me a bucket containing the bush meat, oblivious of what was in it,” recounted the widow.
A thorough manhunt for the alleged poachers in the village located along the crucial wildlife corridor which separates Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks, led to her arrest, even after she fled Manyara region for Arusha, in 2016.
“It still hurts me that I to pay 2050000 for my freedom,” she narrated. On her part, another member of the group Ms Magreth Mandao, is convinced that the training provided to them will change the mindset of their spouses and sons.
According to Ms Mandao, some of the villagers have contracted unknown diseases after
consuming bush meat.
“This was a result of the illegal practice, nonetheless, it is rewarding to see our spouses resorting to other economic activities such as carpentry and fishing,” she said.
Even as they’ve shunned the practice, Ngoley villagers appealed to authorities to establish bush meat butcheries in the area, saying they still crave for its taste.
JET members pitched camp in the area for a three-day fact-finding mission courtesy of courtesy of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Tuhifadhi Maliasili Project.