- Published on Monday, 29 April 2013 03:36
- Written by MARC NKWAME in Arusha
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WHEN filming the accompanying video for his 1996 hit, ‘Earth Song,’ the late Michael Jackson used scenes from Tarangire National Park, complete with its giant elephants to carry the message about the importance of conservation.
Michael Jackson’s ‘Earth Song’ video clips showed massive rates of deforestation that left the entire globe barren, elephants being killed leaving behind trails of large rotting carcasses and eventually such hazards took toll on human beings who got annihilated.
Seventeen years later during the occasion to mark ‘Earth’s Day,’ students from various secondary schools in Arusha region boarded two buses and headed to Tarangire National park for an educative nature trip to supplement their knowledge on natural resources and wildlife conservation.
The students were all members of ‘Roots and Shoots’ clubs, the extra-curricular organizations being formed in Tanzanian local schools with the aim of cultivating young conservators and green-belt missionaries. The clubs run under the ‘Jane Goodall’ foundation, named after the legendary ‘Chimpanzee loving’ lady conservator once based at Gombe National Park and who actually also founded the now worldwide movement.
This year, during the marking of the global ‘Earth’s Day,’ ‘The Nature Conservancy,’ decided to spend the special occasion by inviting members of the ‘Roots and Shoots’ clubs from eight secondary schools in Arusha for the educative picnic at Tarangire National Park. April 22nd is the date for ‘Earth’s day’ and within this time it is rainy season in Arusha, Manyara and many parts of the country.
Indeed it had just poured cats and dogs and when the delegation entered Tarangire, the giant river from which the park was named after had flooded. It meant there were areas that the students could not venture, at least not on the Toyota Coaster Minibuses that they were travelling in, because even the all-terrain trucks could not cross the river that had burst the bridge.
‘The Nature Conservancy’ according to its coordinator Mr Alphonce Mallya assist local communities to conserve their natural resources, habitat and environment as whole and taking the students along the trip was to help cultivate such spirit right from tender ages. The TNC states that over 60 per cent of Africa’s lands and waters — community property, in a sense — are managed by the people who live on them. “These people are undoubtedly the most vulnerable on Earth.
And so far the continuing threat is their lack of control over the communal lands and waters they depend on for survival.” And as the people struggle, so too does the wildlife that relies on the same resources. An absence of strong institutions and governance further compounds these challenges.
“We are focused on perfecting and exporting the best examples of communityled conservation across the continent’s vast shared lands and waters. These examples are ones that provide tangible benefits to people,” according to Mr Mallya once conservation benefits local communities, the latter would do everything to protect it.
“The animosity between wildlife and local villagers is rooted back in colonial days when the ruling foreigners used to fence off national parks thus displacing local people from their settlement, when they left, many retaliated by killing wild animals,” said Mr Mallya.
TNC want to bridge the gap between conservation and human development by coming up with programmes that will help villages benefit from wildlife and other natural resources and in turn they may play major roles in protecting such important world heritage. “All hands on the earth,” was the guiding theme for this year’s TNC ‘Earth’s Day’ celebrations.
Mr Japhet Mwanang’ombe is a conservator and coordinator for ‘Roots and Shoots’ movement who revealed that while for many years the R&S was concentrating of ‘environment protection’ agendas; however the Tarangire picnic became handy in supplementing their latest agenda which will now focus on wildlife.
“We teach students to respect animals’ rights and in fact we are now organizing art and painting competition with special focus on wildlife and this year we expect to name the winners at the peak of the ‘World Biodiversity Day’ on the 25th of May 2013,” he revealed.
So far there are 200 ‘Roots and Shoots’ clubs operating in Primary and Secondary schools in Tanga, Arusha, Manyara and Kilimanjaro Regions with a growing membership of nearly 48,700 members and counting.
Mr Kleruu Sumaye who coordinates the R&S projects in the Ngaramtoni Zone of Arusha, said in addition to environment protection, the clubs also help students to start profit making ventures such as beekeeping and making alternative charcoal fuel from trash like discarded paper.