‘Population growth, encroachment on national parks threaten wildlife’

05Jul 2019
The Guardian Reporter
MWANZA
The Guardian
‘Population growth, encroachment on national parks threaten wildlife’

MINISTER for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Hamis Kigwangalla yesterday expressed concern over the survival of the country’s protected areas like national parks and game reserves, amid increasing population and consequent encroachment of conservancies.

MINISTER for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Hamis Kigwangalla.

Dr Kigwangalla made the remarks here when opening an annual meeting with senior journalists and editors organized by Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa).

The minister said that the future of wildlife conservation is uncertain due to myriad challenges, including population pressure, suggesting comprehensive approaches to address the situation.

Experts put Tanzania’s population is estimated at anywhere from 50 and 55 million and the country still has one of the fastest rates of population growth in the world,

“That’s why it is important for us to come up with comprehensive approaches to scale up conservation against encroachments,” the minister said.

As Tanzania’s population rises, the situation that will increase pressure on the country’s protected areas, he said, noting that this is a challenge as the size of the land remains the same while the population continues to increase.

“It is important that we protect our national parks and game reserves so that they continue to contribute to the country’s economy by bringing in foreign exchange (forex). These protected areas are also an important source of clean air, water and energy,” he pointed out.

“We need to put the national interest first when it comes to national parks conservation for the current and future generations,” he emphasized.

Dr Kigwangalla said that the tourism sector at present contributes 17.6 percent to the country’s GDP and accounts for 25 percent of foreign exchange earnings, and it employs more than 600,000 people directly and more than two million people indirectly.

He commended Tanapa for its community projects in areas close to natural resources as part of reducing pressures on exploitation of natural resources.

The Commissioner Conservator for Tanzania National Parks, Dr Allan Kijazi described the meeting as key in scaling up dissemination of information on the tourism sector.

Dr Kijazi described the annual meeting with senior journalists and editors, the sixth consecutive annual gathering, as an important platform for Tanapa to get feedback from key tourism players.

He said the ministry was determined to improve the southern and western tourism corridors—by improving conservation efforts in these new areas of tourism.

“We’re planning to invest heavily in scaling up promotion on potential tourist destinations in these areas,” he said, noting that more people need to become aware of key tourist destinations in these areas as well.

He said that the media and tourism watchdogs go together to meet the government’s target of making Tanzania an industrial and middle income economy by 2025.

For his part, Mwanza Regional Commissioner John Mongella commended Tanapa for organizing this important event to improve the tourism sector.

“The media is a key player in promoting this important area,” he said, underlining

the need for regions to take part in conservation efforts.