TANZANIA has the largest population of lions and holds third place on the elephant population in Africa, according to the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF).
AWF Chief Executive Officer, Kaddu Sebunya said that was a result of the efforts made by the government of Tanzania to ensure that wildlife and forest conservation were given priority.
“Tanzania has set an example in the wildlife and forest conservation area, something that has saved some species from further declining; the leading country with the largest population of the elephant is Botswana followed by Zimbabwe,” he said.
Mr Sebunya stressed that each country in Africa should set strategies that will help locals to reduce human-wildlife conflict and preserve their resources.
“Currently there is a challenge of wildlife loss, especially lions and elephants; it’s crucial for community members to abide by the wildlife laws and trade regulations that help protect African wildlife,” noted Mr Sebunya.
He said the loss of habitat encroachment of wild-lands by people and livestock, poaching of lion prey and human-wildlife conflicts are the main factors that have caused lions to disappear from more than 90 per cent of their former range.
Elaborating further, he said in Ruaha National Park which holds more than 10 percent of the world’s remaining lions, the big cats rely heavily on adjacent dispersal communal lands. In such areas, retaliatory or pre-emptive killing to protect humans and livestock, are driving down populations.
Mr Sebunya stated that to mitigate human-wildlife conflict in this protected area, AWF works with local communities to fence off their livestock enclosures, reducing attacks on livestock by 60 per cent.
The AWF boss further stated that it was possible to conserve wildlife in each country; recalling those days when elephant poaching was on the top list in Tanzania but now they are safe due to several measures implemented by the government.
He said African people have their traditions and cultures that primarily were based on the conservation of forests and wildlife but the globalisation challenge has led to the introduction of new cultures that need to be corrected.
The conservationist further said Africa continues to struggle with declining wildlife as many species are being hunted towards extinction. “Sustainability and conservation are essential to Africa’s future,” he added.