Tanzania: Tourist Centre Gives Wildlife Area New Value
In order to gain insight of the ecology of Burunge Wildlife Management Area and learn about its cultural, natural and historic values, it has been felt vital to establish a tourist or visitor centre where tourists can get interpretive information of available resources and heritage.
The centre will strive to boost revenue for local communities of ten villages of Mbugwe Division in Babati District, Manyara Region.
The centre which is under construction at Olasiti Village about 100 kilometres from Arusha is near the turn-off to the Tarangire National Park. It was established under the auspices of the International Technical Assistance Programme (ITAP) of the Department of the Interior of the US Government.
The initiative will convey the overall system of WMAs in Tanzania and the Wildlife Policy in regard to conservation and how the community is gaining tangible benefits from protection of wildlife.
One of the objectives of the Wildlife Policy of Tanzania launched in 1998 is to promote the conservation of wildlife and its habitats outside the protected areas by setting up Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) so as to establish an environment that will ensure that legal and sustainable wildlife schemes benefit local communities in the respective areas.
Burunge Wildlife Management Area safeguards an important wildlife migration corridor between Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks for biodiversity threatened by human settlement, pastoralism, farming, and poaching. Its habitats, especially wetlands of streams cascading from Rift Valley escarpment support abundance and diversity of wildlife population including 500 species of birdlife.
A close safeguarding of biodiveristy is indispensable due to the reason that over 80 percent of the important Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem is situated within the ten villages constituting the Burunge WMA, otherwise it will be vulnerable to unsustainable resource management.
The establishment of the area also enhances the protection and preservation of Burunge and Manyara lakes, the water sources which are important for birds, amphibians, fishes and plants. The lakes, which are also potential for sports fishing and canoeing.
The area is also home for six tribes namely the Bantu speaking, Mbugwe, Nyiramba and Nyaturu and the non-Bantu tribes, Maasai, Datoga and Iraqw. The tribes in the area with different traditions customs, dresses, do not only preserve and showcase their traditions and livelihoods, but also represent three among the four African major linguistic families, who are Bantus, Nilotics and Cushitics.
Also the WMA plan of giving equal opportunity to all ethnic groups would create sense of appreciation, recognition and conservation awareness in a bid to eradicate the ritual hunting, the malpractice done by pastoralist societies in the area. Each year young warriors from the Nilotic Maasai and Datooga kill lions with spears to culminate youth bravery and courage as a necessity for their rite of entering manhood or prestigious status. The practice goes unabated as is done in secrecy and the event is pretended to be retaliatory killing due to livestock predation.