and are increasingly vital as growing human populations expand their impact on the landscape
The identification and protection of wildlife corridors is increasingly vital as pressure on natural resources mounts across Tanzania. These precious sites can help secure national interests such as water, energy, tourism, biodiversity, carbon sinks and development as well as meeting the needs and rights of local communities. Corridors are essential links between different animal populations to ensure genetic viability and habitats through migration routes. Access to alternative feeding grounds can be a lifeline during altered weather conditions – exacerbated by climate change, and help mitigate human wildlife conflict such as crop raiding.
Unfortunately, once wildlife corridors are lost they can never be fully restored. Almost all documented corridors in the country are either in a critical condition, or have already been destroyed. Rapid agricultural expansion, unplanned land use, unmanaged natural resource extraction, increased bush meat trade and road construction all contribute to habitat loss. Unless action is taken to manage these activities, Tanzania’s protected areas will become isolated - a situation likely to have serious implications for the viability of animal populations and economic development, including the sustainability of the tourist industry as well as broader ecosystem survival. Urgent and persistent conservation attention at both national and local levels is needed.
Merely gazetting wildlife corridors as parks or reserves is not necessarily the solution, especially in a nation with a rapidly growing human population and with so many nominally protected areas. Management of wildlife corridors can be complex, and different strategies will be appropriate for different corridors. WCS is actively involved in locating, understanding and monitoring wildlife corridors across the country. As part of this process, WCS co-produced the 60-page ‘Wildlife Corridors in Tanzania’ the first analysis of corridors in the country, (see www.tzwildlifecorridors.org). Novel approaches are needed, such as wildlife management areas (WMAs) that WCS has set up around Ruaha National Park, and conservation easements that WCS helped establish around Tarangire National Park.