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New wildlife rules shortchange villagers

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Siasa' started by BAK, Jan 15, 2008.

  1. BAK

    BAK JF-Expert Member

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    Jan 15, 2008
    Joined: Feb 11, 2007
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    By Samuel Kamndaya
    THE CITIZEN

    The Government and some civil society organisations are involved in a tug-of-war over new wildlife regulations on the commercial use of natural resources in game reserves and village lands.

    Mr Erasmus Tarimo, the director of wildlife at the Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources, says the regulations adopted last September will help to empower village leaders and save them from being deceived by some dishonest tour operators.

    The argument does not augur well with stakeholders like the Tanzania Natural Resources Forum (TNRF) which affirms that the new set up will adversely impact the economies of rural dwellers.

    In fact, the regulations are there to protect village leaders. They do not aim at grabbing authority of controlling tourism activities on village lands from village leaders as some people claim, the director said in an interview.

    He said tour operators deliberately portray the regulations as a bad thing in order to win the support of villagers but for the operators� own gain.

    TNRF, a collective civil society-based initiative aimed at improving natural resource management, said it will seek legal redress of the matter. Its officials told this newspaper recently that the forum is now soliciting legal advice to oppose the ministry�s initiative.

    It says the new regulations give powers to the Director of Wildlife alone to control all non-consumptive wildlife use on village land and set out schedules for the payment of fees and other applicable charges.

    Its leaders argue that with the director at the helm, the central government is bound to be collecting all the revenues accrued from wildlife on village lands � leaving the village tourism authorities with nothing � contrary to how things used to be in the past.

    The regulations require that all photographic tourism operations on village lands including Game Control Areas (GCAs), Open Areas (OAs) and Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) are illegal without the express and prior permission of the wildlife director.

    The country�s wildlife policy calls for the creation of WMAs which give local communities some control over wildlife resources on their lands and enable them to benefit directly from these resources.

    Rural communities are allowed to establish WMAs, defined in the policy as an area declared by the minister to be so and set aside by village governments for the purpose of biological natural resource conservation.

    TNRF says that prior to signing of the regulations, pastoralists and poor village communities used to benefit from the country�s rich wildlife resources for being guardians of the wildlife.

    These guardians were the ones that laid down foundations of hunting and photographic through which they benefited by charging fees to tourists," the agency says.

    They laid down the foundations of the wildlife industries, hunting and photographic, and upon which thousands of other Tanzanians make their living. These people are now being cast aside as worthless to the future of wildlife, a TNRF statement asserts.

    Under the former regime, communities may lease trophy hunting or game viewing concessions to tourist outfitters and engage in hunting for food, the director affirms, noting that some operators used the chance to deceive village leaders.

    �While going directly to village leaders, some operators give very little money to them and then commence their photographic tourism operations and that is why we deemed it fine that operators should first be licensed before going to do their tourism activities.

    Operators hate the new regulations because we set out specific fees for them to pay, he said.

    TNRF said that they were translating the regulations into Kiswahili so that folks living within GCAs and OAs will be able to read them for themselves and understand them.

    The forum feels that directing all revenues to the central government means grabbing from rural people an incentive to look after wild life � a development that is likely to lead them to accelerate the killing of wild animals.

    Enlarged ploughing of fields and cultivation will advance right up to park boundaries � with tourists more compressed into national parks hence devastating the country�s policy of promoting quality tourism, the statement intoned.

    The agency wonders if the government has initiated new methods by which the villagers will benefit from wildlife if under the new regulations it is the central government that takes all of the revenue accrued through wildlife from village land.

    The director noted that sharing revenue among various government institutions and up to the village level was open and the central government could not change it.

    In fact the central government gets a small percentage of the money collected from tourism activities on village lands. Most of it goes to local governments and to the villagers, he said without disclosing the actual percentages in the sharing out.

    The other issue that sets TNRF and the ministry on opposite ends is the involvement of other stakeholders in preparing wildlife sector regulations. Mr Tarimo affirms that the country was in need of the regulations and no other method was feasible.

    We could have involved them fully but that would cost as dearly at least Sh2 billion and that means it could take time to write the regulations. Understanding that we needed the regulations, we had no option but to gazette them and enforce them as soon as possible, the director added.
     
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