December 11, 2013
Tanzanian Wildlife Threatened By Growing Human Population
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
As the population in Tanzania continues to grow, so do conflicts between humans and wildlife, making education an ideal tool to use for an intervention. Tanzania has one of the fastest growing populations in the world and researchers wanted to see how this boom would impact human-wildlife interactions in the country. Buffer zones are already set up in Serengeti and Tanzania’s other national parks, meaning human activity is only allowed if it benefits the environment and local communities.Farmers living near Serengeti National Park get training on how to handle and protect wildlife in the area, and in return they are compensated in the form of community investments like schools and water wells. Moreover, 25 percent of the income from the parks is fed back into local communities, and local authorities distribute these benefits among the residents.
Despite these efforts, the researchers found that there are still conflicts between humans and wildlife beyond the border of these national park lines. Angela Mwakatobe, who recently defended her dissertation at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, said education and support must be given for people who live further away in order to dampen these conflicts.
Mwakatobe studied villages at various distances from Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to see how people interact with the wildlife and the best ways to protect both. She found that attacks on livestock and crop raids are more common the closer villages are to the national park. People who keep livestock in the villages located close to the protected areas are on constant guard while their animals are out grazing.
The researcher found that villagers who lived the farthest away from the protected areas preferred livestock enclosures or bandas, as well as guard dogs, to protect livestock at night .
Primates like baboons and vervet monkeys were the most destructive animals for the villagers, followed by elephants. However, Mwakatobe said elephants were only a problem when villages were close to the park.
Destruction isn’t the only problems that animals were bringing to the villagers. Mwakatobe found that diseases from wild animals were also spreading to domesticated animals.
Hunting for bushmeat is most common close to Serengeti, but illegal markets were also found in the villages further away. In Tanzania, hunting for bushmeat is still considered to be highly illegal.
Mwakatobe looked at what kind of dried meat people preferred to eat in the different villages. She found that most people prefer to eat normal beef if they can get it, but availability is limited, which leads many villagers to kill wild animals illegally.
Illegally hunting for bushmeat becomes more common as animals migrate through the villages. These large migrations involve more than two million animals, such as wildebeests, zebras and antelopes.
Mwakatobe proposes that villages close to the national park receive support to help the villagers raise chickens and other animals. She also recommends that these villagers be trained in aquaculture to try to keep the need for bushmeat down.
Mwakatobe says further studies should focus on the conflicts between humans and other primates. She says a combination of several kinds of guarding practices will be the most effective in minimizing animal raids on crops.