THURSDAY July 7, 2022
By Patty Magubira
Tranquility News Reporter, Tanzania
Tanzania’s 4th president is worried over human species disappearing on earth in the next two centuries or so if its actions on the planet never change.
Dr Jakaya Kikwete said the existence of the human species greatly depended on plants, animals, weather and climate it was currently compromising with.
He said available statistics in the UN circles showed about 99 per cent of plants and wildlife species had disappeared since the world began.
About 900 species of plants and animals had disappeared in the past five centuries and one million others were endangered at the moment, he said, citing remains of inexistent dinosaurs exhumed at Tendaguru in Lindi, Tanzania.
Human actions were to blame for depleting plants and animals, and for adding carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, resulting into rising temperature on earth.
He wondered that big polluters of the planet were reluctant to cut down their carbon dioxide emissions in a bid to reduce the rising global temperature by 1.5 degrees centigrade.
As a result, Africa, whose contribution to carbon emissions was insignificant, was mostly hit by global warming effects, including inconsistent patterns of weather and climate and the melting of the icecap on Mount Kilimanjaro.
Dr Kikwete was officiating at the 60th Anniversary of the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and the premiere of the Benjamin Mkapa Photography Award Exhibition in Arusha, Tanzania, recently.
He commended AWF for naming the photography award after his predecessor, admitting that his friend, brother and mentor he worked with for over 40 years deserved the respect.
During his presidency, Mr Mkapa had laid down a foundation that would rescue Mother Nature in the country and globally if honoured.
The Tanzania’s 3rd president devised environmental and wildlife conservation policies, enacted laws and took several measures which help preservation of the environment and conservation of wildlife.
“It is up to us,” said Dr Kikwete, observing that the award would continue reminding people of their duty of preserving the environment and conserving wildlife.
Dr Kikwete called on the AWF, as the most experienced conservation institution on the continent, to continue cooperating with and advising African governments.
“Sometimes leaders might not accept your advice, but don’t give up. If they don’t accept for lack of knowledge, they will remember you,” he stressed.
Ms Anna Mkapa, the president Mkapa’s widow, said the award was beyond taking pictures and art. It was rather a platform for encouraging future workers of wildlife, leaders, institutions and tourism firms to become brave enough to fight for the welfare of their country, Africa and the world at large.
The Tanzania’s Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements, Dr ANgelline Mabula, observed that wildlife-human conflicts were increasing because human activities had destroyed about 75 per cent of protected areas in the country.
The Arusha Regional Commissioner, Mr John Mongela, was optimistic that the photography exhibition would inspire visitors to tour iconic tourist attractions in the region, take their own photographs and participate in the competition.
The AWF Chief Executive Officer, Mr Kaddu Sebunya, enumerated a number of milestones the foundation has achieved as it comes of age.
Founded in 1962 in Tanzania as the African Wildlife Leadership Foundation (AWLF), its primary task was to develop the capacity of the youngest continent then to manage conservation.
The foundation co-founded the Mweka College of African Wildlife Management with the government of Tanzania in 1963 which has so far trained 9,000 students from 28 African countries and 24 others from outside the continent.
In 1967, it provided research grants that financed Serengeti Research Institution to support study on the ecosystem, and in 1968, it funded the expansion of Serengeti and Tarangire national parks.
In 1970s, the foundation established another school of wildlife management in Cameroon for French speaking Africa.
“We also started to build what is now the largest youth conservation movement on the continent, starting in Kenya where we launched 1,089 wildlife clubs between 1969 and 1971,” Mr Sebunya explained.
The clubs have expanded to become the largest youth conservation movement in Africa with over 2.8 million students in Kenya alone. Similar clubs were established in Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Cameroon, Sudan, Seychelles and Zambia.
In 1980s, the AWLF name changed to AWF when elephants on the continent were half the population, thanks to an excessive ivory appetite in North America and Europe.
AWF carried out a campaign dubbed ‘Ivory Belongs to Elephants’ which eliminated the demand for ivory and saw the population of jumbos growing once again.
AWF also led a campaign at CITES that saw elephants being elevated to Appendix No. 1 called endangered species.
In 1990s, AWF pioneered community participation in conservation by developing expertise and support for governments in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Zambia, among others.
The decade also marked the beginning of the AWF Landscape Level Programming dubbed the Heartland of Africa, identifying 34 landscapes across the continent which the foundation thinks Africa must protect if the human species is to survive.
In 2000s, AWF pioneered once again a new model of community owned eco-lodges with many of them established in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
In Tanzania, the foundation established a mosaic of five Wildlife Management Areas in Maasai Steppe and Kilimanjaro where livestock and wildlife are existing together.
In 2010s, the growth of the tigers also brought a demand for Africa’s wildlife again, prompting the AWF to establish an urgent response fund to stop wildlife trafficking and the demand for ivory and wildlife products in AsiaΩ