Tanzania’s wildlife parks turn sixty
Famous German conservationist Professor Bernhard Grzimek and his son Michael made a milestone development in the conservation of wildlife in Tanzania, producing a film documentary and a popular book with a title ‘Serengeti Shall Not Die’ 60 years ago.
Through his film and a book, Professor Grzimek opened up a tourist landscape in Tanzania and East Africa, which is mostly wildlife based, drawing hundreds of thousands of tourists from all corners of the world to visit part of Africa for wildlife safaris.
Professor Grzimek surveyed and demarcated the present boundaries of Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area as we know them today. He then worked with the British government and later the Tanzanian government to conserve wildlife in those two famous wildlife parks.
Standing as tourist magnets, Tanzanian wildlife parks, under the management and trusteeship of the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), stand as the leading tourist attraction hotspots in Tanzania and East Africa.
TANAPA will celebrate 60 years of its existence next month with various tourist activities to color the event.
National Parks Conservation Commissioner Dr. Allan Kijazi said the commemoration of 60 years of the parks would be used to promote domestic tourism and conservation.
He said that Serengeti National Park, which has won a number of tourism and conservation global awards, is a world heritage site and a global natural wonder, adding that it is still a top tourist attraction 60 years of the National Parks.
The great annual wildebeest migration involving over a million animals is a lifetime event which tourists visiting this park don’t like to miss.
The Tanganyika National Parks Ordinance of 1959 established the organization now known as Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), and Serengeti became the first National Park. Currently TANAPA is governed by the National Parks Ordinance Chapter 282 of the 2002 revised edition of the Laws of the United Republic of Tanzania.
Nature conservation in Tanzania is governed by the Wildlife Conservation Act of 1974, which allows the government to establish protected areas, and outlines how these are to be organized and managed.
The National Parks represent the highest level of resource protection that can be provided. Today TANAPA had grown with 16 national parks, covering approximately 57,024 square kilometers.
Mwalimu Tanzania’s First President Julius Nyerere, deliberately advocated for the need to establish wildlife parks and develop a national tourist base, taking into account that tourism under British colonial powers basically meant amateur hunting more than photographic safaris.
In September, 1961, just three months before the independence of Tanzania from Britain, Nyerere together with senior political officials met for a symposium on the ‘Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources to endorse a document on wildlife protection and conservation known as the “Arusha Manifesto”.
The Manifesto had since then been a milestone for conservation of nature in this part of Africa.
Through tourism development, TANAPA supports community projects in villages neighboring the national parks through its Social Community Responsibility (SCR) program known as “Ujirani Mwema” or “Good Neighborliness.”
The “Ujirani Mwema” initiative had shown a positive trend, bringing reconciliation between people and wild animals.
Now, people in villages appreciate the importance of wildlife and tourism to their lives.
National parks have successfully maintained a competitive advantage over other tourist sites adding value to tourist sites outside the parks.
The wildlife parks have become the leading tourist selling point for Tanzania, and this had made tourism an important sector of the economy for Tanzania’s development.
Success in wildlife conservation has set a solid foundation for re-thinking and repositioning the national parks management and trustees on global roadmap on conservation of nature.