PRIME Minister Kassim Majaliwa has issued 12 directives to various authorities in the country to ensure sustainable conservation for the welfare of society, among them being to review the amount of money given to victims of wild animal attacks as consolation.
He issued the directives in Parliament yesterday while presenting a report on the issues that arise in managing conservation issues and the way the government is handling them.
“In accordance with several government measures, we recognise that there are still challenges or land conflicts involving residents, particularly those living in areas bordering the reserves,” he said.
“These challenges have been caused, among other things, by some areas being incorrectly listed in the reserve, and the absence of good relations between the community and the conservation authorities,” he explained.
Mr Majaliwa directed the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism to review the amount of money given by the government as consolation to the victims for the loss of life or injury caused by wild animals to ensure they are in line with reality.
Other directives he issued were that conservationists should ensure that residents near reserves do not begin agricultural, grazing, or building activities within the reserve in order to avoid the need to use force to sanction activities that have already begun, such as destroying settlements, cutting crops, seizing livestock.
Rather than ambushing residents who have encroached protected areas, he directed that all operations should be conducted after the residents of specific areas have been notified and provided with sufficient information.
Thirdly, he instructed strengthening the reserve’s boundaries by installing long, clearly visible beacons with banners, as it was done in the Ruaha, Loliondo, and Isawima Reserves.
To make it simple for the government to take action, Mr Majaliwa urged people who had complaints about property or livestock confiscation or injuries to make sure they reported the incidents as soon as possible to police stations and district authorities.
The Premier further ordered the Police Force to thoroughly investigate all the incidents involving torturing, harming, and even murder of some people who were accused of entering the reserves, as reported by Members of Parliament and individuals, in order to take action against those who are found to have broken the law.
“The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism should investigate complaints from the public regarding claims that some conservationists have been forcefully taking people’s livestock before bringing them into the reserve in order to seize and profit from them. Take strict action against any employees who are discovered to be engaging in such behaviour,” he added.
Mr Majaliwa added that conservationists should foster good neighbourly ties and educate locals who live close to the protected areas about the advantages of sustainable conservation. They should also participate in social and development activities in nearby villages.
Consequently, he directed the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and the President’s Office – Regional Administration and Local Government (PO-RALG) to reduce the chain of command when dealing with the challenges resulting from wild animal attacks.
Other directives include a review of Chapter 283 of the Wildlife Conservation Act to determine the appropriate penalty and clearly specify whether the amount applies to a single animal or the entire group.
He said there is pressing need to have a legal procedure that requires hearing of cases related to livestock grazing on the reserve to be held as soon as possible in order to avoid the costs of caring for and storing the captured livestock.
Finally, he stated that peace and security committees of regions and districts should be fully involved when there is suspicion of herders bringing livestock into protected areas.
Mr Majaliwa said the government manages legally protected areas with a size of approximately 307,800 square kilometres equal to 32.5 per cent of the country’s total area.
“These areas include 22 national parks, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, 29 reserve forests, 38 community wildlife reserves, three wetlands under the Ramsar Site Convention, and 465 natural forest reserves. 20 natural forest reserves, 24 government tree farms, 10 bee reserves, 133 archaeological sites and seven National Museum centres,” he said.
Measures taken by the government to handle land conflicts between national reserves and residents include creating a national committee of eight ministers to resolve land disputes in the country.
He says that the government has also allocated some national reserves and forest areas to the populace so they can carry out agricultural, grazing, and habitational activities.
“Cleaning the border areas of the reserve and placing banners with clear visibility are among the things the government is doing,” he said.