TOURISM & ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION

by Mark Gillies

In April President Kikwete addressed a meeting at Chatham House, London, on Tanzania’s Transformation and Vision 2025. Despite the recent coverage of poaching, the threat to Lake Natron and explosions on Zanzibar, the President made no mention of tourism; he did, however, stress the need to improve infrastructure, develop industry and increase the local processing of natural resources.

Widespread poaching continues to drain the life from Tanzania’s national parks and game reserves. According to Martin Fletcher (Mail on Sunday 22 March), the Ministry of Natural Resources warehouse in Dar now holds 34,000 tusks – 17,000 dead elephants. That is still just a fraction of the animals lost, as confirmed by the recent Frankfurt Zoological Society aerial survey of the Selous Game Reserve and Kilombero Valley [see article on Operation Tokomeza]. On 25 March the new Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu, sacked the Chief Executive of the Tanzania Tourist Board Dr. Aloyce Nzuki, accusing him of poor performance and saying his position had become ‘untenable’. The sacking may have been due in part to Tanzania not making the top three at the prestigious ITB Travel Fair. However, it may also have to do with the fact that the Mail on Sunday article came from a fact-finding trip paid for by the Tanzanian government.

Controversy continues over the proposed road through the Serengeti and the plans for a soda ash extraction plant at Lake Natron, both of which will, it is alleged, cause permanent damage to the charismatic wildlife that attracts so many visitors and the landscapes in which they live (see the website savetheserengti.org). The East African Court of Justice in Arusha has heard final submissions from both the Tanzanian government and the plaintiffs, headed by the Africa Network for Animal Welfare, who are seeking a permanent injunction against the road in its present proposed form.

Sadly, violent attacks have occurred on Zanzibar once more. On 24 February, home-made explosive devices were detonated at the Anglican Cathedral and the popular Mercury’s Restaurant in Stone Town. Police recorded no casualties, although Reuters mentioned local reports of injuries. Although the event was picked up quickly by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and published on its travel advisory, it did not generate much media coverage.

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