Although nearly a quarter of Tanzania’s land surface (24%) is designated as some form of protection for wildlife, in the 1970’s and early 1980’s wildlife in Tanzania suffered dramatic declines due to lack of capacity to manage increasing poaching pressures. As a result, Tanzania lost nearly half of its elephant populations and almost all its black rhinoceros populations. Herbivore survey data from across Tanzania revealed that further declines in many wildlife populations had occurred from the late 1980’s to early 2000’s in over 50% of the survey areas. Wildlife policy provides for licensing of both resident subsistence and sport hunting in Tanzania but capacity to manage illegal hunting for bushmeat is limited. Demands for necessary protein and income to support Tanzania’s growing human population – from 17 million people in 1977 to 42 million in 2012 – are being supplemented through illegal bushmeat hunting and trade. Illegal hunting has been identified through scientific research as a primary cause of significant wildlife declines in Tanzania and is now an issue requiring high priority action.
Tanzania’s BEAN founding members have conducted research in different areas of Tanzania, including urban areas and Katavi National Park, as well as been conservation leaders within the country. Today they are using this expertise to go on to build capacity of wildlife professionals in Tanzania at various institutions and to complete a PhD in Wildlife Ecology addressing alternative proteins and the economics of bushmeat hunting.
Law enforcement strengthening
In Tanzania, the BEAN founding member Lowaeli Damalu within the Wildlife Division has been working to strengthen law enforcement that includes patrols intelligence, investigations, and prosecutions in Selous Game Reserve and across Tanzania across levels at the Pasiansi Wildlife Training Institute as part of a broader strategy to address the complex issue of bushmeat .
Upcoming project addressing alternative proteins
In Katavi, Martin Andimile’s bushmeat research has suggested community members hunt mostly for income (80% of the hunters). To address this education and awareness with a well focused message will be developed as part of the solution for the park. A grant has been awarded to vaccinate chickens in Katavi National Park against Newcastle’s disease—an eye ailment that leads to high mortality rates in local chicken populations. This project arises from research that suggested nearly 70% of households that hunted did so for income; the other doing so for food. Although meat is available in the area, the costs are much higher than bushmeat. This intervention at the livestock health interface posits that healthy chicken populations result in increased incomes and stronger food security in the area, reducing the actual need for bushmeat proteins amongst families who raise chickens. This work, which will take place in late 2012, follows in the footsteps of work done by Dr. Dennis Rentsch who established the link between Newcastle’s disease and bushmeat consumption in Tanzania.