Livestock in protected areas, here are possible solutions

LIVESTOCK grazing in preserved areas doesn’t affect only natural vegetation, wildlife and environments, but also agricultural activities.

It happens when livestock enter the areas and destroy water sources, especially groundwater systems, whose streams channel water into farming areas.

The destruction also leads to lack of water for domestic and livestock use, says the Senior Assistant Conservation Commissioner for Lake Zone, Ms Gisela Kimario.

“The pastoralists have been taking their animals into preserved areas under the pretext of pastures’ scarcity, but this is not true. Grazing areas are available, but the issue is lack of proper land use mechanism as well as (lack of) continuous awareness campaigns to most pastoralists,” she says.

She urges the pastoralists to regularly consult relevant authorities so as to be shown areas for grazing. Additionally, the government through Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA) will also release some controlled areas in the Lake Zone soon for livestock and other human activities.

The areas to be released are those proven to already be mostly affected by human activities, says the Conservation Commissioner. She at the same time advises relevant authorities to help in teaching the pastoralists on modern animal keeping methods, which reduces the number of animals but makes the pastoralism most productive.

The Commissioner also urges the pastoralists to adhere to conservation laws that prohibits livestock from entering the preserved areas for promotion of the tourism sector.

Similarly, she adds, the government continues improving the well-being of communities around preservation areas through channeling 25 percent derived from tourism activities to various social service projects. The projects are mostly in water, education and health areas, says MsKimario.

“The support is continuous, according to how community members present their proposals on what project should come first, for their development and to encourage them to protect preserved areas,” she says.

Commenting on if TAWA offers scholarships to some children in the communities around preservation areas, for reliable availability of ambassadors for wildlife and environmental protection, the Conservation Commissioner, responded that: “As I have said earlier, if the community members present the need for scholarships, then the authority will respond accordingly through the funds that have been set aside for social services.” In response to the shortage of grazing areas, the pastoralists in Busega District of Simuyu region are requesting for relocation of their livestock to any part of Tanzania in search of reliable pastures.

The animals are getting thin every day due to poor pastures, a move that also affects their price during auctioning. According to him, a cow currently sells at not more than 300,000 compared to between 600,000/- to 800,000/-, previously. “We therefore urge the government to set up a special grazing area anywhere in Tanzania for our animals and support the relocation,” he requests.

The relocation will also serve in avoiding the current farmers-pastoralists conflicts since the two parts are scrambling for the available small areas for farming and grazing.

“We are forced to scramble for land because animals are our bank. We sell them for school fees for our children, for farm purchases and tilling to ensure food security in our households, for our medical services and other important family needs,” he stressed.

Commenting on if there was something wrong with the government making Kijeleshi a game reserve, the Secretary responded that, there was nothing wrong because Busega people are aware of the benefits of tourism to the country, the reason why they are ready for livestock relocation.

The Secretary insisted that the Busega community values the tourism sector, a reason why they never harm some wild animals that normally enter their villages, mostly elephants. Kijelishi Village Chairperson, Mr MashauriDubana, calls on continuous public education to pastoralists around the protected areas, including Kijeleshi, so as to avoid the loss they have been experiencing when their animals enter the reserve area.

“The animals are confiscated when they enter Kijeleshi, a move that makes us poor, but very few pastoralists are aware of the prohibition and possible punishments to defaulters,” he says.

On the other hand, public education helps everyone to know the importance of environmental and wildlife conservation for the betterment of the communities around game reserves and the nation. He also accepts the idea of modern animal keeping, a move that he says will reduce the number of livestock and make good use of the small available grazing area.

According to him, Busega people are in need of such an education, a step that will not only reduce the number of animals to fit in the small available grazing area, but also to provide quality and quantity products, mostly milk, meat and skin, especially for commercial purposes.

Chief Executive Officer for Non-Governmental Organization Peace for Conservation (PFC), Mr David Kabambo, supports the motion of continuous public education, saying that the step will lead to introduction of alternative economic activities to pastoralists.

He says PFC aspires to conserve wildlife and wild places, improve community health and healthy environment and alleviate poverty at grassroots level alongside solidly improved community livelihood opportunities for effective conservation in Tanzania.

“The Organization encourages community engagement on conservation to create a positive dynamic change of conservation and diplomacy towards achieving peace and conservation, due to equal sharing of accrued benefits from conservation through advocacy that lead to common understanding,” he says.

According to the CEO, the organisation whose most projects have been carried out in Busega, has already taken some steps towards community engagement on conservation issues, including academic sponsorship to school children.

Mr Kabambo says that in efforts of boosting conservation awareness in the area, they have donated construction materials like bags of cement and iron sheets to schools close to the protected areas, and constructed private toilets at Anthony Mtaka Secondary School and Kijilishi Primary School which will be used by girls during their menstrual period.

He says that they also renovated and constructed classrooms at Kijelishi Primary School and introduced a soccer for conservation program as one method of creating awareness about wildlife conservation and the negative impact of grazing in protected areas.

“We urge other stakeholders to support these efforts for betterment of the communities around protected areas, the tourism sector, wildlife and environmental protection in general,” he concluded.

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