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Tanzania is a large country in East Africa bordering the Indian Ocean and well known for its iconic wildlife, national parks, and World Heritage Sites. The presence of the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Mount Kilimanjaro and one of the largest protected areas in the world, the Selous Game Reserve all prove Tanzania’s importance in the global conservation arena.
Six Endemic Bird Areas have been identified in Tanzania, the most identified in any African country. This is thought to be partly due to the topographical and climatic variations found in Tanzania and due to the old age of many of the forests.
Tanzania has a population of 44 million but due to the vast size of the country the population density is relatively low with fewer than 50 people per square kilometre. However the country is developing rapidly and there are increasing pressures on the natural resources.
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is working in a number of diverse sites within Tanzania. In the early 1990s, we focused on saving the endangered Pemba flying fox from extinction. At that time the number of bats was estimated at a few hundred. However, FFI partnered with the Department of Commercial Crops, Fruits and Forestry and local communities to increase the population of flying foxes to around 20,000 today. This success enabled FFI to focus on other areas of conservation concern on Pemba Island.
In addition, FFI has been involved both in developing wildlife corridors to ensure that migration routes are maintained and in participatory forest management at Tongwe. We also support the Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative, where the Forest Stewardship Council awarded its first certificate for community-managed natural forest in Africa.
The Tongwe Trust is a small community organisation devoted to helping the Tongwe people protect and benefit from their ancestral land, which borders Lake Tanganyika, north of Mahale Mountains National Park.
FFI is harnessing support for the Trust to establish, protect and manage Village Land Forest Reserves, which will safeguard forests on village land that are critical habitats for chimpanzees and elephants. We are also helping the villages to develop sustainable use of forest resources.
FFI is helping our partner the Mpingo Conservation Project, which we helped to establish, to develop sustainable forest management amongst communities in south-eastern Tanzania. Their miombo forests contain mpingo, or African blackwood – the world’s most valuable timber used in musical instruments such as clarinets and bagpipes. Communities who collectively and sustainably manage their local forests can earn 100 times more than they did before, and certification to the Forest Stewardship Council standards is enabling them to charge a premium above illegally harvested timber.
The Kwakuchinja corridor is vital for wildlife movement between the Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks and so underpins the resilience of the wider ecosystem. FFI is promoting conservation of the area by securing threatened sections of the corridor through sustainable land management and livelihoods-driven approaches. We recognise the corridor as a resource for sustainable economic growth for local communities and so are ensuring that people can benefit from its conservation long into the future.
FFI has been working in partnership with the Department of Commercial Crops, Fruits and Forestry of Zanzibar since the late 1990s to protect the critical remnants of the coastal forest mosaic on Pemba Island and their resident endemic and Threatened Species, in particular the Pemba flying fox. This fruit bat was listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List of endangered species and is now listed as Vulnerable due to the successful conservation efforts of the department, the local communities and FFI. The project also seeks to develop sustainable livelihood options for communities on the Island.
The successful conservation of rhinos in relatively small secure fenced areas has been pioneered in Kenya. FFI is financially and technically supporting the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya to conserve their rapidly growing population of over a hundred black rhinos and white rhinos. The conservancy also generates surplus animals for re-stocking other areas. We are particularly involved in an initiative to re-establish the northern white rhino. The last four breeding individuals were translocated to the conservancy from a Czech zoo in December 2009. FFI is also part of the East African Community Rhino Management Group, which exchanges expertise and rhinos between the East African range states.
As the oldest conservation organisation in East Africa, the East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS) has benefitted from support from FFI. It has been extremely successful in combating rhino and elephant poaching in the past, but was struggling to function by the mid 1990s. FFI has helped to rebuild EAWLS’ conservation capacity and is currently supporting them in the development of a regional conservation plan focusing on their coastal and marine programme. The overall goal is to conserve biodiversity and improve the livelihoods of coastal communities through the sustainable management of coastal and marine resources in Kenya.