by James L.Laizer

Tanzania Becomes Home to New Seed Bank, Aiming to Boost Food Security in Africa
The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) have partnered to establish a new seed bank in Tanzania, the Africa Seeds and Biotechnology Centre. Positioned in Tanzania strategically due to its climate, the centre aims to distribute high-quality seeds to farmers across Africa. As part of AGRA’s broader initiative, the centre is expected to significantly contribute to improving food security on the continent, conducting research on seed varieties and technologies to boost agricultural productivity. This milestone aligns with Tanzania’s efforts to develop its agricultural sector, create jobs, and stimulate economic growth, contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Tanzania shifts sights for tourism gold with five million visitors sought by 2025
The Citizen noted Tanzania aims to hit the 5 million tourists mark by 2025, boosting the sector’s already significant contribution to the economy (25% of foreign earnings, 17.5% of GDP). This push for “Responsible Tourism for Inclusive Growth” was showcased at the Swahili International Tourism Expo last year, featuring cultural performances from the new target nations. With global eyes on Tanzania’s tourism scene, President Hassan’s government aims to solidify the country’s place on the map, attracting diverse travellers and driving sustainable growth.
Xinhua reported that Tanzania seeks to diversify its tourist base by targeting China, Russia, and India as new strategic markets. This move, announced at the Expo, aims to tap into the growing middle classes in these countries. Tourism Minister Kairuki emphasized the tourism industry’s critical role in Tanzania’s economy. The expo showcased both Tanzania’s natural beauty and its commitment to sustainable practices.

According to the BBC, efforts to attract UK tourists include strategies implemented by the Tanzanian High Commission, such as establishing a special tourism desk, conducting roadshows, and promoting lesser-known circuits. The goal is to welcome 200,000 UK visitors by 2027, aligning with Tanzania’s broader plan to achieve 5 million annual tourists by 2025, aiming to generate $6 billion in tourism revenue.

Zanzibar Bets on Luxury Tourism with East Africa’s First Seven-Star Hotel
Zanzibar ventures into luxury tourism with East Africa’s first seven-star hotel on Pemba Island, a $1.2 billion joint venture with UAE investors. The opulent new hotel project aims to elevate Zanzibar’s tourism offerings but faces concerns about environmental impact and potential community displacement. While promising economic growth and job creation, responsible implementation and community engagement are deemed crucial for a sustainable outcome.

EU Parliament rebukes Tanzania over forced Maasai evictions.
According to Survival International, the European Parliament, citing escalating tensions and alleged violence, condemned the Tanzanian government’s displacement of the Maasai from their ancestral Serengeti lands, in December 2023. Demanding a halt to evictions and dialogue for a rights-respecting solution, the EU resolution adds to international pressure on Tanzania to protect the Maasai people and their cultural heritage.

Wildlife policy, anti-poaching plan launched to boost tourism
Tanzania launched a comprehensive plan to combat poaching and boost tourism late last year. The Wildlife Policy Implementation Strategy and Tanzania Elephant Implementation Plan 2023-2033 involves collaboration with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), focusing on strengthening protection, engaging communities, and investing in anti-poaching efforts. Successes include a recovering African elephant population (from 43,330 to 60,000 since 2014) and rising rhino numbers.

Eastern Arc: An $8 billion emerald, but who guards it?

Clouds rise above forests in the Eastern Arc’s Usambara Mountains. Photo Marije Schaafsma

According to the Mongabay magazine, the importance of the Eastern Arc Mountains is underscored by a study involving over 70 scientists, emphasizing their $8.2 billion value through clean water, carbon capture, and tourism. Protecting this ecosystem, while providing fair compensation to locals, requires international collaboration and sustainable practices. Tanzania’s commitment to a greener future is evident as it explores carbon investments to transition to a low­carbon economy. Challenges include capacity gaps and the need for supportive policies, but promising opportunities in renewable energy and sustainable land use exist. Concerns remain over the long-term security of the hotspot.

Carbon Credits in Africa: Green Promise or Neocolonial Echo?
According to the Citizen, in pursuit of a sustainable future, Tanzania is initiating carbon investments for a low-carbon future, establishing a national carbon market and strategy and a new partnership with the UAE. Challenges include capacity gaps and the need for supportive policies, but promising opportunities exist in clean energy and sustainable agriculture. As Tanzania navigates its carbon investment landscape, building capacity, ensuring alignment with sustainable development goals, and active stakeholder involvement are essential for long-term success.

Despite the potential benefits, concerns arise about Africa’s carbon credit market perpetuating ‘carbon colonialism.’ Tanzanian news platform Chanzo questions whether promised benefits will materialize for local communities and urges transparency, accountability, and community involvement. The challenge lies in ensuring equitable distribution of benefits and empowering local voices in climate action efforts.

Zanzibar Seeks Greener Horizons: Eco-Tourism Summit Charts Island’s Sustainable Future
According to the Citizen, the upcoming Zanzibar Sustainable Tourism Summit, being held on February 19-20, 2024, will gather tourism professionals, conservation experts, and government officials to chart a sustainable course for the island’s tourism industry. This event aims to chart a sustainable course by fostering collaboration, identifying responsible practices, and showcasing local eco-friendly solutions. Aligned with Zanzibar’s commitment to sustainable development, the summit seeks to address environmental challenges while promoting community engagement, resource protection, and cultural preservation.


by James L.Laizer

Tanzania ranked among best tourist destinations in Africa
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation ranks Tanzania as Africa’s second top tourism performer after Ethiopia, citing a substantial increase in visitors and positive industry developments. According to Dr. Hassan Abbas, Tanzania’s Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, the tourist sector was negatively impacted by COVID-19, but new investments and the government efforts, including in producing the ‘Royal Tour’ documentary have helped to improve performance. The number of tourists increased from 250,000 in the first quarter of 2022 to more than 400,000 in the same period this year.

“This is a very good step in the tourism sector because we have come out of Covid-19 and soon we will release fresh data on the number of tourists for the half-year. We continue to thank Tanzanians for continuing to invest in the tourism sector, many good things are coming,” said Dr Abbas when briefing on the outcome of Africa tourism conference held August, 2023 in Mauritius. He also said that Tanzania has been made a member of the council responsible for developing global tourism strategies and plans as well as the UNWTO’s vice-chairman.

Speaking at the Mauritius event, director of tourism Dr Thereza Mugobi indicated that Tanzania has acquired lessons that may assist in revolutionizing the tourism industry. These concerns include expanding private sector participation and making additional investments in tourism infrastructure: “Mauritius has made serious development in beach tourism, and it also works with the private sector very closely. The private sector always conducts tourism research and shares recommendations with the government. In Tanzania, we also work with the private sector, but we need to invest more” said Dr Mugobi. She also suggested that hospitality standards are important to make tourists come back. During the Mauritius event, Dr Abbas announced a renewed six-member board of the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB), containing members from both private and public sectors, with Ambassador Ramadhan Dau appointed chairperson, succeeding Judge Thomas Mihayo who retired at the close of his tenure.

Anti-poaching efforts paying off in Tanzania as wildlife population increases.
Tanzania has announced a steady rebound in its elephants and black rhinos’ populations as anti-poaching campaigns and ongoing enforcement and intelligence work continue to keep poaching efforts down. The number of black rhinos, an endangered species, has increased from 163 in 2019 to 238 in 2022, surpassing the target of having 205 rhinos by the end of 2023, the then Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mohamed Mchengerwa, said in June 2023. Presenting the tourism ministry’s budget in Parliament, Mr Mchengerwa said the elephant population also increased from 43,330 in 2014 to c.60,000 in 2022. As a result, Tanzania currently boasts Africa’s third-highest elephant population.

“Wildlife security reports indicate that no elephant deaths have resulted from poaching between July 2022 and April 2023,” said Mr Mchengerwa. He added that anti-poaching campaigns were boosted by efforts to control illegal wildlife trade, illegal logging, and encroachment in protected areas. This is a strong indication that poaching has been dropping in Tanzania but not a time for complacency either. According to the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF), black rhinos and elephants remain critically endangered species because of the demand for their horns and tusks in the illegal international market. WWF says poaching for the illegal trade is the greatest and deadliest threat to these species, as the horns and tusks are traded to be used for traditional medicine and increasingly as a status symbol to display success and wealth. Ongoing efforts will be required. Mr. Mchengerwa also stated that conservation efforts remain evident as the country accommodates the largest populations of lions and giraffes at 14,912 and 24,000, respectively. “12,058 poaching suspects have been apprehended, and the ministry has conducted special intelligence operations enabling the prevention of poaching and illegal harvesting of forest resources,” he said. This suggests that the use of a holistic approaches such as anti-poaching operations, intelligence, local community buy-in and better coordination among state agencies has helped enforce a legal framework that supports conservation and sustainable management of wildlife and protected areas in Tanzania.

Zanzibar announced an increase in its room tax effective from 1st July 2023.
The Zanzibar Revenue Authority (ZRA) has embarked on collecting new infrastructure levy from hotels, that comes into operation effective from July 1st, 2023. The tax changes will cover both five-star hotels and guest houses that shall charge from US$ 1 to US$ 5 or its equivalent in Tanzania Shillings per guest per night. According to the ZRA’s public notice, the tax is payable by a guest staying in any Isles hotel or guest house and the management shall be responsible for its collection.

Hoteliers and tourism stakeholders in Zanzibar have said the introduction of the levy for every hotel room occupied per night is likely to negatively affect the sector. However, the government has upheld that the levy will have no meaningful impact on the private sector. According to Ms. Saada Muya Salum, Zanzibar’s finance minister, the new levies would be implemented immediately with effect from 1st July 2023. “Hoteliers will have to see how to implement this, and I don’t think it is going to affect their businesses to that extent. What we are doing is creating a conducive business atmosphere; for example, regarding the issue of electricity, we have removed VAT on solar panels,” Ms Mkuya said.

The hotel stakeholder groups responded that having additional levies damages the competitive edge that Zanzibar has against other island nations in the Indian Ocean. “Hotels are already charging 15 percent VAT already, now add $5 dollars; this is keenly felt by consumers who might be forced to look elsewhere,” said one hotelier in Stone Town who preferred anonymity. The hotelier added that despite a rebound in the sector with handsome numbers of arrivals, this is an industry that was ravaged by the pandemic and many of the businesses are still in the recovery period. The chairperson of the Zanzibar Association for Tourism Investors (Zati), Rahim Bhaloo, said the new development has taken the industry stakeholders by surprise, adding that there was a need for prior engagement given the dynamics and nature of business. However, the chairperson of the Zanzibar National Chamber of Commerce, Ali Amour, said infrastructure tax changes needed to be implemented in accordance with the laws, indicating. That such levies support increases into tourism infrastructure such as roads.


by James L.Laizer

Carbon credits – an emerging hope for conservation in Tanzania
Tanzanian communities have started to earn income from carbon credits based on conservation projects they implement. Most recently, eight village communities – Lugonesi, Mwese, Lwega, Bujombe, Kapanga, Katuma, Mpembe and Kagunga – in Katavi Region, Tanganyika District, were reported to have received TSh 4.2 billion in carbon credit sales in December 2022 on top of TSh 2.3 billion received in the last eight months, taking their total income from carbon credits in 2022 to TSh 6.5 billion. The payments were received after carbon credits accumulated from forestry protection were sold to the voluntary carbon market. Carbon credits were made possible through technical support of an investor, Carbon-Tanzania, that entered a contract with village governments in 2017 to protect the Village Land Forest Reserve, thus generating certified carbon credits. The contract required the eight village communities to engage with Carbon-Tanzania in protecting their forests using the Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) system under the Ntakata Mountain Project.

These payments indicate the broader potential of rural villages to earn carbon credit funds through the effective implementation of conservations projects in Village Land Forest Reserves. By scaling-up similar projects in Tanzania, rural villages will not just enhance conservation and contribute to the global fight against climate change but will also ensure income generation and associated benefits to forest-owning communities across the country.

The main factor contributing to deforestation in Tanzania is unstainable agricultural practices that involve forest clearance due to shifting cultivation. Deforestation causes carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere. Prevention measures thus result in emissions reduction which gain value as carbon credits.
Carbon-Tanzania is a leading investor amongst others with knowledge of carbon credit systems in Tanzania. They are focused on supporting and advising communities to enter into selling of credits on the voluntary carbon market, therefore providing communities with access to the global financial system. In 2021, communities earned over $1.5

million in carbon credit revenues which is equivalent to over TSh 3.4 billion. In December 2022, the Prime Minister of Tanzania Hon. Majaliwa Kassim Majaliwa handed over a ‘dummy cheque’ to the beneficiaries’ villages and commended them for ensuring sustainable management of resources. Additionally, the prime minister advised the beneficiaries’ villages to make good use of the funds by investing in development projects that will benefit the communities longer term, especially in provision of health services. The PM specifically suggested the use of carbon funds for the construction of the Kagunga Dispensary, estimated to cost about TSh 180 million.

Thus far, the funds generated from carbon credit sales are said to have been used mainly for social service provision in the areas of education, markets, local government office support and health. According to the Tanganyika District Executive Director, Mr. Shaban Juma, Tsh 1.85 billion of carbon revenues were spent on community social service provision projects in 2021. However, he also mentioned key challenges facing carbon credit projects in the District of Tanganyika, including low understanding among citizens and related incidents such as wildfires, trees felling, livestock grazing and crop farming in the village land forest reserves.

According to Carbon-Tanzania’s CEO Mr. Mark Baker, the Ntakata Mountains Project covers 217,000 hectares of Miombo woodland in the Greater Mahale Ecosystem in western Tanzania, engaging over 38,000 people from the eight villages. The project also supports the protection of key habitats for endangered wildlife species including the eastern chimpanzees, wild dogs, Egyptian and lappet-faced vultures and vulnerable species such as elephants, ground hornbills, martial eagles, giraffes, pangolins, leopards and lions. The project also created important connectivity between the Greater Mahale ecosystem and Katavi National Park and allows a free movement of elephant and other wildlife within the ecosystem.

More effort required to lift tourist numbers to the peak in Tanzania
In October 2022, the Tanzania Vice President Hon. Phillip Mpango challenged public and private players to come up with promotion strategies that would attract more tourists. He expressed dissatisfaction with the contribution of the tourism sector to the national economy, calling for increased efforts to capitalise on the country’s natural resources. The target is to achieve USD $6bn in tourism earnings by 2025, requiring an increase in tourists to five million. He encouraged promotion of domestic tourism to attract recommendations to help address factors hampering tourism in the country.

The Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) chairperson, Angelina Ngalula, notes that policies to ensure business continuity should be revisited to foster sustainable private sector development and build an enabling environment for entrepreneurship. Other areas that require government intervention and facilitation include the transition from the informal to the formal economy that are key to a human-centred, inclusive, shift to eco-tourism which is a fast-growing industry focused on conservation and job creation to locals as well as sustainable and resilient recovery of the tourism sector.

A call to protect wildlife
In December, environmental charity WWF launched the “Living Planet Report 2022,” in Dar es Salaam. This called for action to protect wildlife whose population globally has dropped at an alarming rate of 69% over the last 50 years. This assessment highlights “devastating” losses to nature due to human activity. During the launch, Marco Lambertini, outgoing Director General of WWF International, said WWF was extremely concerned by the new data that shows a great fall in wildlife populations, in particular in tropical regions like Tanzania that are home to some of the most biodiverse landscapes in the world.

Tanzania is estimated to have been losing 469,000 hectares of vegetation cover per year. WWF Country Director Amani Ngusaru said Tanzania should protect the environment by adopting sustainable practices in agriculture, forestry, fishing, energy, mining and construction to control climate change. According to Dr. Ngusaru, Tanzania experiences climate change impacts in form of drought, floods, and loss of land. The report clearly indicates early warning and immediate action for conservation and restoration in Tanzania and other tropical countries is necessary.


by James L.Laizer

Relocation of people from Ngorongoro hits the headlines
The relocation of people from the famous Ngorongoro Conservation Area is continued to hit the headlines whereby a number of families reported to have registered for leaving to Msomera village in the Handeni District in Tanga.

Police stand off with Maasai protestors

According to The Citizen of 23rd July 2022, the Deputy Conservation Commissioner (DCC) of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), Dr. Christopher Timbuka, reported that 757 households with 4,344 people have voluntarily signed for the relocation so far. “The number of households that are currently registering to relocate from Ngorongoro is huge and satisfying compared to our manpower. We have the funds, but cannot construct all required houses at once, that is why we are relocating people in phases and moving according to the budget.”

The indigenous Maasai community has lived in the Ngorongoro conservation area, a UNESCO World Heritage site in northern Tanzania, for over a century now. However, they now face being moved out, as the authorities contend that their growing population is a threat to wildlife habitat.

The registered Maasai families have to be moved to Msomera village, about 50km from Handeni township in Tanga region, 600km (370 miles) away from their ancestral land of Ngorongoro. The Arusha Regional Commissioner Hon. John Mongella was quoted as saying that the government has earmarked 400,000 acres of land for relocated Maasai households. In the video statement Hon. Mongela said that “There is no eviction here, all people who are leaving (are) voluntarily registered and the government is facilitating them.”

Although the Government officials are insisting that the relocation is voluntary, but the community remains sharply divided over the issue, with many reluctant to leave the only home they have ever known. The Maasai say the authorities are attempting to force them off their land in order to organise safaris and private hunting expeditions for tourists. The government however has rejected these accusations, but the issue has led to clashes between the pastoralists and police. One police officer was killed and several protesters were injured during demonstrations in Ngorongoro district’s Loliondo town.

Various local and international organisations have expressed their profound concern over ongoing efforts to relocate the Maasai from Ngorongoro. The United National Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues called on the Government of Tanzania to immediately cease efforts to evict the Maasai people from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area as stated in the report of the 21st session in 2022 to be presented at UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Further, the Forum called on the Government “to comply with the provisions recognised in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and other relevant international human rights instruments, and ensure the right of the Maasai to participate in decision-making, considering that [use of] their land in Loliondo for safari tourism, trophy hunting and “conservation” will affect their lives and territory.”

The Government issued a statement assuring the public and the international community that “the country abides by the rule of law and is a party to a number of international conventions and protocols with respect to human rights. Conservation is for the benefit of the people and in this regard the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania with continue to give priority to its people above anything else. … The exercise of implanting beacons around any protected area is a normal practice for all wildlife and forest protected areas in Tanzania and it is not strange for it to be applied to the Loliondo Game Controlled Area. The fact that the Government has decided to allocated the 2,500 square kilometres out of 4,000 square kilometres of protected land to the community testifies its commitment to its people and human rights plus community development activities as well. We therefore call upon the general public and the international community to ignore the ongoing propagated false allegations by some individuals and organisations that there is an eviction exercise and an infringement of human rights taking place in the Loliondo Game Controlled Area.”

A continuing dialogue between the government and the affected Maasai communities as well as adhering to the rights of the indigenous people is the best approach toward a fairly relocation process of the Maasai community in Ngorongoro. This would ensure the survival of the Maasai community, their ability to maintain livelihoods and fundamentally, their traditional way of life, whether in Loliondo or in Msomero.

Ten-year conservation plan launched
Tanzania launched an environmental conservation master plan as part of celebrations marking the World Environment Day. The master plan was launched by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa in the capital, Dodoma on Sunday 5th June 2022.

The government plans to take a number of measures to address the impact of environmental degradation caused by human activities. The Prime Minister directed the Ministry of Finance and Planning to allocate budget for its implementation in the next 10 years. The plan is aimed at reclaiming degraded areas in the country and at the same time controlling further environmental degradation, he added.

He urged government ministries and institutions, the private sector and individuals to fully participate in the implementation of the plan that he said focused on protection and conservation in 15 areas, including massive tree planting, controlling of invasive plants in protected areas, mobilization on the use of alternative energy to lessen dependence on firewood and charcoal, and controlling outbreaks of wildfires.

Other areas are protection of water sources, protection of animal corridors from encroachment by human activities, controlling of human-wildlife conflicts, and creation of a comprehensive waste management.

At the event, the United Nations resident coordinator in Tanzania, Mr Zlatan Milisic, commended the East African nation for efforts to conserve the environment in the face of climate change. “Tanzania has proved to be a trustworthy partner toward the conservation of the environment,” he said.

Mr Milisic also commended the government for mainstreaming the environment agenda into policies and decision-making as well as increasing engagement of the youth in the Environment Action Plan II. “Trees are now being planted and grown all over the country, including here in Dodoma where the Regional Commissioner is implementing the tree-planting campaign,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of Parliament’s Industry, Trade and Environment Committee, Mr Felix Kavejuru said nearly 500,000 trees were being felled annually, with 35% of them being cut down in Tabora, Shinyanga, Kigoma and central zone regions.

“The trend denies the country environmental products such as food, reliable water, drugs and clean air. The target of planting 1.5 million trees by each council annually should be emphasized. People should be educated on the need to shift to alternative energy and abandon firewood and charcoal,” he said.

World Environment Day, celebrated annually on June 5, is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of the environment. In Tanzania, the World Environmental Day has been a platform for raising awareness on environmental issues such as marine pollution, overpopulation, global warming, sustainable consumption and wildlife crime.

Tourists to enjoy high speed internet on Mount Kilimanjaro
Africa’s Tallest Mountain Mt- Kilimanjaro gets fast internet whereby the climbers now can upload their ascents to share with family, friends and followers in real time. The installation of the high-speed internet services on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro was implemented by a state-owned Service provider (Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation), whereby a broadband network set up at an altitude of 3,720 meters (12,200ft) above sea level at Horombo Huts. This is great news to tourists, tour guides as well as porters who previously, used to climb the Mount Kilimanjaro without the internet.

According to Nape Nnauye, Minister of Information, communication and ICT, the internet service will be extended to the summit of the mountain by the end of this year. The internet project would increase the visibility of the mountain and attract more visitors to one of the country’s leading tourist destinations where by tourists can now communicate worldwide from the summit of the mountain as well as improves the safety of mountain climbers and porters.


by James L.Laizer

A new Minister for the Tanzania Tourism Ministry
Announcing her mini-cabinet changes on Thursday 31st March 2022, Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan appointed Dr Pindi Chana as the new Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, replacing Dr Damas Ndumbaro who was moved to the Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs.

According to the Citizen, the transfer of Dr Chana to the new role was based on the experience that the former has in diplomacy and law: “Dr Chana is a lawyer and has experience in diplomacy. The management of natural resources and tourism it is about diplomacy, I thought she will fits more here compared to the former docket’’, said President Samia.

The appointment of Dr Chana into this influential position represents an additional female in a senior cabinet role, in the challenging tourism ministry, not seen under female leadership since the tenure of Zakia Meghji.

Rhino Rajab dies at the age of 43
One of the oldest rhinos in Tanzania, Faru Rajab, has died at the age 43 in the Serengeti National park. According to the Citizen, the Tanzania National Parks Authority reported that Faru Rajab died from natural causes in what is likely due to old age. Tanapa said in a press statement that Faru Rajab died in March 2022 leaving a line of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

The rhino was born in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in 1979 and was transferred to the Serengeti National Park in 1993, said the statement. According to statistics from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Tanzania has about 190 rhinos. Tanzania had 10,000 rhinos in the 1970s and the number declined to 65 in the 1990s and went up again to 161 in 2018 and then to 190 in 2020. The sharp decline in the population of rhinos in recent years is attributed largely to poaching.

Tourism stakeholders rejects cable cars on Mt Kilimanjaro
A proposal to put cable cars on the highest mountain in Africa, Kilimanjaro, has been firmly rejected. According to the Citizen, a total of 558 tourism players in northern Tanzania voted resoundingly against a multi-million-dollar cable car project on Mount Kilimanjaro. However, in a clarification statement, Tanapa stated that the planned cable car project was still in its conceptual stage and that actual execution would require government leadership at various stages as well as stakeholder engagement.

The organisations whose members roundly voted against the proposed project included Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO), Tanzania Tour Guides Association (TTGA), Tanzania Porters’ Organisation (TPO), Tanzania Local Tour Operators (TLTO) and the Mount Kilimanjaro Porters Society (MKPS). The representatives’ reservations regarding the planned project are on the grounds that it is a sacred place with considerable existing conservation, local and overall economic value. Representatives further stated that the likely ecological damage from the proposed project would outweigh the expected benefits.

During the 2022 Kilimanjaro Marathon on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, the Tanzania Prime Minister Mr Majaliwa Kassim Majaliwa made it clear that the project campaigners have a daunting task to convince the government to give the contentious plan a green light. He stated: “I’ve heard discussions about the cable cars to be installed on Mount Kilimanjaro. This majestic mountain has its own splendid glory to the adventurers who scale up to the peak on their feet, we want the natural vegetation to remain intact. Once you start digging the mountain to erect pillars of cable cars, you will obviously destroy the natural vegetation on the mountain”.

Uncertain Situation Remains Over Ngorongoro Residence
Growing fears of eviction from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area are still the subject of much debate amid a conflict that has lasted for more than two decades. Claims persist that the reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is on the verge of extinction following an increase in human population and livestock, threatening the welfare of wildlife and sense of natural beauty. In 2017, the human population had reached 98,183, compared to 8,000 when the 8,292 square kilometre conservation area was established by the colonial administration in 1959. In the same period, livestock numbers have increased from 161,000 to 805,556.
Despite these rising numbers, opinion is divided over what to do. Some say a permanent solution would be to evict the residents to protect the reserve for the national interests. Other stakeholders propose a roundtable dialogue in an attempt to reach an agreement without hurting anyone, believing that the removal of the Maasai will erode the status of a globally important heritage site that has long provided a sanctuary for people and wildlife alike.

Late in 2021, President Samia Suluhu Hassan called on officials to diligently handle the conflict so that the rights of the people were not infringed upon. Raising concerns over growing human and livestock populations, yet aware of the cultural importance of the site, she said: “I know we agreed to accommodate some pastoralists and animals in the area, but the growing numbers are not acceptable. Otherwise, we need to agree as a nation whether to preserve Ngorongoro or remove it from the list of heritage areas.”

In the same period, the then minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Damas Ndumbaro, took a harder line, suggesting plans to introduce a Bill in the National Assembly to change the law that established the reserve.
As discussions around the potential relocation of Maasai communities became increasingly heated, the residents of Ngorongoro frequently complained and directed petitions to President Hassan to reconsider the conflict between the Maasai and the conservationists. Many Maasai have sought to emphasis there is a middle way, with Maasai communities having a strong conservation legacy that predates colonial times.

The Citizen reported a resident stating: “We do not refuse to preserve this area, we know its importance for the nation, but the politics that have been clearly visible in this regard are the ones that are destructive and need to be looked at carefully.”

The issue has attracted lawmakers’ attention. Some legislators have been arguing over the removal, reduction of people and livestock within the reserve, while others argue that livestock is owned by a few rich people while leaving a majority poor and without. Subsequently, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has promised that the government will launch a dialogue with the people of Ngorongoro Division as well as those of Loliondo to find a solution based on human rights.


by Paul Harrison & James L.Laizer

James Laizer has over 20 years of experience working in natural resources management in Africa, both terrestrial and marine, and both public and private sectors, and is a long term associate of Paul Harrison. He takes over the Tourism and Conservation portfolio in Tanzanian Affairs from Paul, who is stepping aside in order to focus on his role as the new Chair of the Britain-Tanzania Society. I offer my sincere thanks to both – The Editor.

Better days ahead expected as tourism sector in Tanzania continues to be strengthened
The Tanzanian tourism sector is steadily recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment and business. Ongoing attention to the sector by President Samia Suluhu Hassan, the wider government and other tourism stakeholders, indicate that there is an opportunity to revamp the tourism industry to drive inclusive growth over the long term, whilst promoting climate adaptation and mitigation. As part of the effort to improve the tourism sector, the Tanzanian government recently allocated nearly $39.2 million (about TSh 90 billion) of funds to mitigate the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the travel and tourism industry. The funds are part of the $567.25 million loan approved in September 2021 by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to support Tanzania in responding to the pandemic by addressing health, humanitarian, and economic effects.

A recent television documentary initiative by President Samia Suluhu Hassan has been received positively throughout the country by tourism industry stakeholders. The Head of State’s decision to personally market Tanzania and invite an international film crew to shoot a documentary on the country’s tourism sector, is thought likely to improve awareness of Tanzanian destinations internationally and hence drive demand. The official trailer for the documentary is finally out (see and ‘The Royal Tour’ is showcasing at tourist, investment, arts, and cultural attractions. The documentary shows Tanzania’s Head of State in safari attire taking the audience on an adventurous tour to some of Tanzania’s most iconic landscapes including Bagamoyo in the Coastal region, Mount Kilimanjaro, iconic wildlife parks and an underwater room in Pemba.

Again, this is part of renewed efforts to make Tanzania more visible to the world and attract more foreign investors to the country and better the tourism sector for days ahead. It follows a similar initiative by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda in partnership with the same US film maker, Peter Greenberg, in 2018, titled “Rwanda: The Royal Tour”.

Serengeti once again declared Africa’s best National Park
On 21st October 2021, the World Travel Awards declared Tanzania’s Serengeti as 2021’s leading African national park as reported in the Citizen (October 21st 2021). The Serengeti was pitted against other prized African contenders such as Central Kalahari Game Reserve (Botswana), Etosha National Park (Namibia), Kidepo Valley National Park (Uganda), Kruger National Park (South Africa) and Masai Mara National Reserve (Kenya). The World Travel Awards also recognized Ngorongoro Crater and Mount Kilimanjaro among Africa’s leading destinations, meaning that three Tanzanian national parks claimed triple spots on the 2021 conservation awards list.

Tanzania won in ten different categories, including: Leading National Park, Leading Beach Destination, Leading Destination, Leading Luxury Island, Responsible Tourism Award, Leading Green Hotel, Leading Private Island Resort, Leading Safari Company, Leading Luxury Safari Lodge, and Leading Hotel Brand. This widespread recognition will help in promoting Tanzania’s tourism destinations internationally and raise conservation awareness in general.

Zanzibar remains a preferred tourist destination with its emergent blue economy drive
Zanzibar has expressed hope over an increase in tourist numbers from September 2021 onwards. Most tourists visiting Zanzibar are from Europe, particularly France and Poland, according to Tanzania Daily News. The Blue Economy agenda is a top priority for Zanzibar. For centuries, the people of Zanzibar have engaged in domestic and international ocean-based activities, though the sector has now grown in both size and significance. Blue economy activities are estimated to have contributed around 29% of Zanzibar’s GDP in 2019 and employ about a third of Zanzibar’s labour force. The Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar developed the Zanzibar Development Vision 2050 and the Zanzibar Blue Economy Policy and is in the process of developing the Zanzibar Blue Economy Strategy. Vision 2050 sets out the long-term goals and aspirations of Zanzibar and distinguishes the blue economy as a key strategic driver for realizing them. The Policy provides a guiding framework for the implementation of the blue economy, and has identified five areas of focus, namely, fisheries and aquaculture, maritime trade and infrastructure, energy, tourism, and marine and maritime governance. A key question will be whether the framework can be implemented effectively, where a drive towards increased investment will need effective engagement with the private sector, including new entrants.

Tanzania calls for financing support towards climate change mitigation
As in other parts of the world, climate change in Tanzania is affecting both the natural environment and local residents. Average temperatures in the country are rising with a higher likelihood of intense rainfall events (often resulting in flooding) and of dry spells (often resulting in drought). Water scarcity is an increasing problem and many major water bodies have had significant drops in water levels, including Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Rukwa. This is having a major impact on the agriculture sector which employs the majority of Tanzanians. In light of this, and since the effects of climate change are seen as an increasing threat in Tanzania, President Samia Suluhu has called for urgent unlocking of climate change financing, warning that inaction means that countries with low adaptive capacity such as Tanzania had no option but to brace for more adverse effects.

While addressing participants in Scotland during the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, President Samia Suluhu said: “What we ought to remember is when drastic climate change hits, it chooses no location, mighty, weak, poor or rich country,” and called for developed countries to scale up their financing efforts to mitigate effects of climate change by providing predictable and adequate funds to enable low-income countries to achieve ambitious sustainable development goals.


by Paul Harrison

Rising hope for the tourism sector as Tanzania receives COVID-19 vaccines
In July 2021, mainland Tanzania received its first consignment of over one million doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines from the United States as part of the COVAX arrangement. Unlike her predeces­sor, Tanzania’s President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has received a COVID­19 vaccine in public, kicking off a nationwide inoculation campaign in the fight against the disease, with Zanzibari citizens receiving the Russian Sputnik vaccination amongst others. A significant step toward protecting Tanzanian citizens, the vaccination programme also repre­sents a major confidence builder to tourists who are currently visiting the country and indeed those who are planning to visit in the future. The greater the rollout, the more likely that Tanzania will be removed from amber and red lists of EU countries, the UK and the USA.

Tanzania’s tourism sector is gradually recovering from the effects of the pandemic. Signs of growth are emerging in many parts of the country as hotel visits, game viewing and other tourist activities are starting to pick up. Traditionally, Tanzania has received the bulk of tourist arrivals from the USA, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Canada, Australia, Ireland and the Netherlands, but recently Russia is emerging as a new market, amongst others. Notably, Tanzania was expected to receive over 650 tourists from Israel during August 2021, according to the Citizen.

Selous ecosystem seems set to maintain UNESCO World Heritage status
Over the last five years, the Selous Game Reserve (now split between Nyerere national park and the reserve) was under increasing threat of being delisted as a UNESCO world heritage site. The threat of removal came from the decision made under the previous administration to construct a hydropower dam on the Rufiji river, which also led to sub­stantial logging to clear the site.

However, due to an on-going dialogue with UNESCO and conservation efforts within the Selous ecosystem, Tanzania has been allowed, in principle, to maintain the status of the Selous as a UNESCO world heritage site, subject to proof of conservation efforts.

According to The Citizen, during the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee meeting, held online from Fuzhou, China from 16-31 July 2021, Tanzania has been directed to address the concerns raised and report by December 1st 2021. This is a promising indication that the Selous ecosystem may maintain its current label as a prestigious World Heritage site and continue to benefit from tourism opportuni­ties there. This assumes Tanzania can continue to protect cultural and environmental treasures of the Selous as well as mitigating issues of degradation around the dam and to tackle human wildlife conflict in the wider landscape.

In Zanzibar, new investment is sought into high-end tourism
According to The East African, in late August the Zanzibar government, through the Zanzibar Investment Promotion Authority (ZIPA), issued an invitation to investors to bid for high-end tourism investments in key small islands. This is intended to boost revenues, part of the wider blue economy drive. Would be-investors were given until 16th September 2021 to submit proposals. Several small islands were offered for pre­mium environmentally and culturally sensitive development projects, including Changuu, Bawe, Pamunda and Kwale islands off Unguja and Njao, Misali and Matumbini islands off Pemba.

In the same period, the BBC reported plans by the government of Zanzibar to build sub-Saharan Africa’s highest skyscraper, with a linked marina development, at a cost of likely upwards of £950 million, assuming investment can be found.

Generally, mainstream tourism numbers have been rising steadily in Zanzibar over the northern hemisphere summer months, though yet to reach pre-pandemic levels. A flood of Russian tourists earlier in the year now appears to have subsided though the trends suggest a shift towards countries like Russia away from traditional beach tourism mar­kets, though that trend may settle back in time. Italian tourists, typically the mainstay of the Zanzibari beach tourism industry, have yet to return in any significant numbers.


by Paul Harrison

Red lights remain. Shifting to green from June?
Like so many countries, Tanzania continued to suffer the impacts of the global near-standstill of tourism traffic in the first quarter of 2021, as tourists from traditional markets were unable to travel due to second and third waves of COVID and resultant lockdowns. Tanzanian tourism operators have forecasted contractions in tourism of over 80%, according to a World Bank economic update on the country. An uncertain stance on the pandemic and fear of variants has led to Tanzania’s inclusion on red lists and travel warnings. However, as many countries progress vaccination programmes and the northern hemisphere summer approaches, the Tanzanian tourism industry has high expectations for a boost in numbers from June 2021. Many hotels and camps are already fully booked for the forthcoming high season; however tour operators are also experiencing last minute cancellations or delayed arrivals as pandemic-related restrictions change plans.

Red lists, regulations and repeat business
Despite rising bookings, the expected boost is not without risk. Whilst (at the time of publication) countries like the UK continue to red list Tanzania and the Centre for Disease Control in the USA ranks the country at the highest possible risk (advising against all travel), Tanzania seeks to highlight steps that it is taking to ensure that it is a safe destination. For some countries and their tourists, that will be more important than others. Continued focus lies on emerging markets like China and Russia which may be less affected by risk-averse government advisories.

Lodges and camps from beaches to the bush have had refits and refurbishments during the lockdown and companies are readying themselves for the return of business. Wildlife populations have noticed the relative quiet and are thriving in many parks, whilst the approaching migration-watching and mountain climbing seasons present a strong and timely offer. Newly-packaged destinations like Mafia Island, Nyerere National Park and Mpanga Kipengere Game Reserve (featuring Kimani Falls) are becoming better prepared to entice international and domestic tourists alike. However, for many tour companies, the spectre of regulations and taxes, seen as an increasing challenge in recent years, still looms. The industry will be watching carefully for any positive shifts in the investment climate.

Tourism industry players fear that raising park and concession fees in the Serengeti, Lake Manyara and Tarangire (effective from 1st July 2021) is a risky approach to take, especially as some neighbouring nations have cut park entrance prices and Tanzania is already seen as more expensive to visit than Kenya or South Africa. The opposing view is that for these high ticket value destinations in the prized Northern Circuit, relative to the full costs paid per tourist, the price rise is negligible. Either way, Tanzania will want to find a way to build up repeat business after The Citizen reported on findings that only twenty percent of tourists return to the country. Reasons given include high costs relative to services provided, infrastructure challenges and inconsistent quality and professionalism.

Pressures on Ngorongoro
In Ngorongoro, a public relations challenge, and potential human rights debate, is emerging. Some Maasai community members are concerned about eviction of communities from the conservation area as concern rises in other quarters that the human population living within the area has become too large. A debate ensues over which is the more impactful: the Maasai residents and their homes and livestock or the many camps, lodges, vehicles, tourists and support staff?

Keeping eyes peeled for poaching
The Tanzanian Government continues to pursue its antipoaching strategy, aware that as tourism numbers increase and the economy (global and national) rebounds, so too does the risk of a rise of poaching and trafficking. Enforcement, intelligence and ongoing support to community engagement, tackling human wildlife conflict and benefit sharing remain critical mitigation factors against an otherwise likely rise. Boosting tourism revenues again—and ensuring a proportion get back out to communities who had become dependent on them— will be critical, lest they don’t become disenfranchised as wildlife custodians.

Zanzibari misfortunes: Beit Al Ajab’s partial collapse and a major fire

Beit Al Ajab following the partial collapse in December. Emergency stabilisation works are now complete.

On Christmas Day 2020, Zanzibari residents and Omani and UNESCO partners were shocked by the partial collapse of the Beit Al Ajab, or House of Wonders, in Stone Town. An investigation followed as the building, which was completed in 1883, was undergoing rehabilitation and restoration work. The building is a significant draw to Zanzibar for tourism and authorities are keen to ensure that a thorough restoration takes place to bring the house back to its former glory. A severe fire that engulfed two five-star hotels in mid-January 2021 fortunately led to no fatalities. 338 tourists were confirmed safe after a fire in the Kiwengwa beach area, severely damaging both the Ocean Paradise and Tui Blue hotels. Nonetheless, Zanzibar has taken these misfortunes on its shoulders as it continues to seek new opportunities in different forms of tourism and linked marine conservation activities through a new blue economy policy.


by Paul Harrison

Tanzanian tourist industry cautiously optimistic after the shock of Covid pandemic
Tanzania has not escaped the global downturn in the tourism and travel sector, with visitor numbers dropping considerably. Tourist numbers have at least halved compared to pre pandemic projections, with indications of up to 900,000 visitors in 2020 compared to the two million tourists planned for: a loss of over a billion dollars of revenue to the country.

The country was not able to take advantage of the usual peaks in demand during the northern hemisphere summer or winter seasons as would-be international travellers stayed put or closer to home. Despite ongoing efforts to diversify international markets and expand domestic and regional markets, the majority of tourists still come from north America and western Europe, notably countries which have faced repeated Covid-related lockdowns and travel restrictions. Rising numbers of Russian, Chinese and Middle Eastern tourists have helped boost numbers, but there has, overall, been a damaging loss to the tourism sector. Retrenchments have been common in the larger tour operator businesses whilst many small-scale operators have gone out of business. Camps have remained closed, aircraft in hangers and safari vehicles parked up.

With the northern hemisphere summer season is in sight, industry confidence is picking up, cautiously. Just prior to Christmas, the Citizen reported a wary optimism to recovering tourism prospects from the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators given the ongoing pandemic, travel restrictions and tightened purse strings. The Hotel Association of Tanzania is cautiously optimistic, noting many operators are at reduced capacity or closed, according to the Citizen. There is a hope that pandemic-weary travellers will look for tropical summer holidays, bolstered by the likely roll-out of vaccination programmes before summer. This offers some confidence that numbers will soon move back towards previous levels – and potentially beyond. In the meantime, the industry is biding its time.

The government is looking at how new markets and potentially direct flights will attract greater numbers post pandemic restrictions. There are also calls for lowering costs, though it is not clear whether this would entail the government giving way in terms of reduced taxes or an already-weakened industry would take the burden. In the meantime, foreign levies for entrance into national parks will rise from 1st July 2021, with a new fee structure that includes entrance and concession fees. The Serengeti will cost USD $70 per day.

In Zanzibar, diversifying tourism in Unguja helps maintain numbers after a lull
In Zanzibar, a new Ministry of Blue Economy and Fisheries separates fisheries from livestock and illustrates an increasing recognition by the Zanzibar government of the wealth of the sea – including from tourism. According to the Daily News, tourist numbers to Zanzibar doubled from September to October 2020 to around 12,000 visitors. This was a welcome signal of renewed interest in visiting the archipelago after the slump caused by the Covid pandemic. Whilst western Europe remains the primary source for tourist visitors, the Zanzibar administration have concentrated on diversifying their markets, with a particular focus on Russia. Thrice-weekly Russian charters bring beach tourists for short stays on Unguja Island and Russian tourists accounted for at least 15% of all international visitors in late 2020. On Pemba Island, tourism remains focused on high end, low volume and the diving markets, with operators largely waiting out the pandemic storm.

President Nyerere’s former home to be opened for tourists
In October 2020, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism announced that Mwalimu Julius Nyerere’s former home in Dar es Salaam – where he lived during the run up to independence in the 1950s – would open for visitors. Following refurbishment by Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), the house will be marketed as part of Tanzania’s increasing effort to boost cultural tourism from both domestic and international markets. The site will allow visitors to get a sense of the context of Mwalimu’s life and thinking – keeping the late President Nyerere’s legacy alive physically.

Boost to promote domestic tourism and jobs
Efforts to counter the loss of revenue from international tourist receipts by focusing on domestic tourism have continued. In December, the Daily News reported a new memorandum of understanding between the Tanzania Tourism Board and CI Group, a service provider promoting local tourism through a ‘Mama Africa’ circus exhibition. The campaign is expected to include engagement of Tanzanian celebrities, companies, colleges and schools. Promotion of domestic tourism remains a challenge due to the pricing structure of the tourism sector as well as the products available. Whilst city-dwellers are often happy to return to rural homes and origins, the domestic market has interests that are not currently served to the same extent, especially in parks and reserves. Wildlife areas that are developed to include infrastructure like boardwalks or visitor centres may have more local appeal. However, they risk putting off international tourists seeking the simplicity of wild nature. The country must achieve a sensitive balance in meeting needs of both the domestic and international tourist markets in its diversification of the tourism sector.

Successes and challenges ahead for conservation
In terms of conservation, parks are well protected with poaching appearing to decrease overall. TANAPA’s shift towards a paramilitary approach appears to be paying off in the national park estate. Conservation has become a serious matter. Unofficial reports of poaching that surface outside of the parks suggest a possible poaching revival in the Ruvuma area potentially linked to the Mozambican insurgency across the border which may also be linked to reports of increased illegal logging in the south of the country. The decrease in tourism, and associated decreases in income for tourist-dependent communities, presents latent risks for a resurgence in the illegal wildlife trade, particularly when economies revive in consumer countries. Close attention to mitigate these risks is needed. However, at the same time, donor investment into conservation has slumped, in part due to the inability of donors to programme and the squeeze on finances at home due to the coronavirus pandemic but exacerbated by sometimes strained relationships between government and development partners.

A WWF report in November flagged ongoing concerns on how illegal fishing, farming, deforestation and resource extraction business, have led to significant depletion of freshwater fish and crustaceans in the Mara River. This exacerbates ongoing concerns of conservationists that the Mara Basin will less effectively sustain the ecosystem on which so many depend for life and livelihoods.

Rangers and volunteers help put out fires on Mt Kilimanjaro (AP photo)

In October 2020, there was a brief panic as fire broke out on Kilimanjaro with risks to communities and hikers alike. TANAPA and stakeholders reacted quickly to quench the fire.


by Paul Harrison

Tanzania attempts to open up to tourism: rest of the world responds cautiously

After responding quickly to a surge of the coronavirus pandemic by halting incoming flights as the virus took hold across much of the world in late March and early April 2020, Tanzania opened its airspace up again in mid-May, with the resumption of international flights. A number of conditions are being applied to try and ensure at-risk travellers are not allowed entry, however the general approach is to welcome tourists back and encourage a revival of the tourism and hospitality sector which had completely stalled, in line with the global situation. According to The Citizen, Precision Air reported an 81% drop in passenger numbers in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

A number of tourists have now returned, taking advantage of having wild national parks, wildebeest migration spectacles and beautiful beaches much more to themselves, whilst persistent marketing by the Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA) has led to a steady monthly increase in the number of sport hunters visiting the game reserves. Tanzania Tourist Board continues with advertising and marketing #TanzaniaUnforgettable and Serengeti Live on YouTube.

Overall, numbers are significantly lower than in previous years still, with many would-be tourists erring on the side of caution before travelling to Tanzania, or indeed travelling generally. Factors keeping tourists away include reduced household incomes and concern that they will have to face quarantine en route or on return, a factor which may apply to visitors to those countries that cannot confirm the severity or otherwise of the pandemic locally. With the ongoing downturn in tourism, despite some improvements from opening up, both state and private sector entities that benefit from tourism are being affected. Many companies have closed down whilst others have contracted considerably. Some lodges have closed, and many jobs have been lost. The outlook, despite ongoing efforts by government and the industry, is likely to be a few hard-going years ahead.

Keeping parks and reserves going: a shift towards centralisation, possible rationalisation
The impact of the coronavirus financially may have stimulated the ongoing rationalisation of the protected areas management system in Tanzania. The Finance Act, passed on 1st July 2020, brought about amendments whereby Tanzania National Parks and Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, like the Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority are now financially dependent on the Treasury, accountable to the Tanzania Revenue Authority. Like the counterpart authorities in fisheries (Marine Parks Reserves Unit) and forestry (Tanzania Forest Services), the wildlife authorities now fall under the control of their respective ministries with a loss of some of the independent decision making of the past. With the reduction in available funds, Government may be seeking a simplification of the management of the protected area system. With this action and the earlier shift of several game reserves over to the national parks’ authority, the stage may be set for future rationalisation. Whilst it appears that Tanzania still values the exceptional resource value of its protected area system – both marine and terrestrial – the path may be open for the future creation of a merged Tanzania Wildlife Authority.

With the drop in revenues due to the fall-out of the coronavirus pandemic, the government has had to respond pragmatically. Budgets have been tightened and have to be carefully negotiated and prioritised. As a result, operational capacity across the wildlife, forestry and fisheries sectors has shrunk. Whilst rangers and staff may still receive their salaries, their ability to patrol marine reserves, national parks, game reserves or nature reserves has inevitably been reduced. Ecological monitoring work has also decreased.

Wildlife poaching and illegal extraction: smoke signals, no significant fires – yet
The jury is out as to whether a sustained economic downturn and reduced operational budgets from wildlife management authorities will lead to a rise in wildlife poaching and illegal extraction of timber. An East African Community special public session on the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on wildlife in East Africa, reported on in The Citizen in July 2020, suggested that wildlife agencies across the region are seeing budgets cut and a shift was being made away from international to domestic tourism markets, at least in the short term, to try and maintain some tourism revenues. The impact of poaching appears limited to date, though Uganda suggested in the session that early evidence suggested some rise in poaching as a result of the crisis.

Regarding wildlife poaching in Tanzania, the twin drivers of poaching – an enabling environment at the supply side and a thirst for wildlife products on the demand side – still appear to be somewhat sedated. The political will behind tackling poaching remains strong and so too is the operational capacity in civil and paramilitary services driven by targets and results. Police, intelligence and wildlife management authorities remain vigilant where they can. On the Asian side, from where most of the demand has come, China’s increased stance against the ivory trade, for example, coupled with a shift in consumer habits does appear to have kept demand down. However, ongoing attention will be required in a time of reduced operational capacity and slimmed down budgets to ensure poaching does not get a chance to rise again, through enduring intelligence and enforcement work, sustained and effective prosecutions and sentences and ongoing community engagement.

The situation for illegal timber extraction may be a different one. International demand for hardwoods continues, albeit at a slower pace and with lower prices than before the pandemic. Increasing government royalties and bureaucracy, unless balanced by greater efficiency, may well drive a greater proportion of timber trade underground as market conditions stall. In the last decade or so, a strong community based natural resources management policy and the use of certification models for supply chain transparency has meant more scrutiny of the forestry sector. Local people that are the eyes and ears on the ground to guard against illegal extraction are less likely to warn authorities when they have no stake in the resource – a situation that could be made possible by reduced investment in community-centred forestry.

Whether for wildlife parks, forest reserves or marine protected areas, for the last two decades a key factor in the successful conservation of Tanzania’s wildlife areas has been community members acting as a ‘social fence’ against threats to biodiversity conservation. With reduced engagement in community enterprises and governance initiatives as budgets are restricted and the policy focus shifts to top down approaches, government and private sector players working in the natural resources sector will need to think creatively to maintain the support of local people in securing fisheries, forests and wild animal populations.