13 May 2014
UNDP HEAD SAYS COMMUNITY INITIATIVES KEY TO MANAGING WILDLIFE
Visiting UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark, says community-based natural resource management is key to a long-term solution to elephant poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
Speaking recently at Ruaha National Park with people from some of the 21 villages adjacent to the park, she learned of their experiences and management challenges in wildlife conservation. “It is clear,” she said, “everyone in a community, including women, youth and the elderly, has a role to play in long term sustainability of their communities and wildlife closed to protected areas. Community based initiatives must be given the support they deserve to generate incomes for rural people and help diversify icomes through tourism and other service sectors,” she said.
Helen Clark visited Ruaha National Park in Iringa to witness the results of the UNDP and Global Environment Facility conservation project known as SPANEST focused on conserving the wildlife and landscape of Tanzania’s Southern circuit, including Ruaha, Kitulo, Mpanga-Kipengere and Mount Rungwe protected areas.
Through UNDP support, the project undertook a census that showed a notable decline in elephant populations in the Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystem, falling from 31,625 elephants in 2009 to just 20,090 in 2013.
UNDP support enabled purchase of graders. Park management has started improvement of roads. This access will open the area for enhanced tourism opportunities, better security, as well as facilitating regular patrols for anti-poaching. Other work has been to providing training to park rangers in the area of Walking Safari as well as various communication devices for the park rangers.