Wildlife Managers Meet at Mweka

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00502 Nairobi, Kenya

If you ask wildlife managers working in national parks in Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania where they studied, many will give you the same answer: The College of African Wildlife Management in Mweka, Tanzania.

Situated in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro (Mweka is one of the towns that allow access to climb the mountain), the college is a respected regional training school that AWF helped establish almost 40 years ago. Mweka College trains mid-career protected-area and wildlife professionals from all over the continent.

So Mweka College was a fitting host for the international conference on "African Wildlife Management in the New Millennium," dedicated as a tribute to conservationist Henri Nsanjama, who died last summer. AWF's Carole Douglis, Alfred Kihoti and Philip Muruthi joined more than 100 other participants from conservation organizations, government agencies, universities and community groups in Africa, Europe and North America, along with Mweka students and faculty, to explore wildlife-management issues--including Africa's bushmeat crisis, community conservation, tourism and conservation, reintrodcing rhinos to their original habitats and saving the great apes.

Nancy S. Bell, program coordinator for the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG), a coalition of seven leading conservation organizations, including AWF (a founding member), found "tremendous interest and support for ABCG" among conference participants. Conference organizer Will Banham said the sight of eager participants pouncing on the 120 pounds of conservation-related materials Bell brought to Mweka reminded him of a "newborn wildebeest being dropped into a pack of hungry hyenas." Bell presented a set of ABCG organizations' materials and posters to the Mweka College library for use by faculty and students.

College Principal Deo Gamassa (a Mweka College graduate) said the conference was designed to address major wildlife management questions and to promote discussion to help participants plan for the future. "As a training institution, Mweka College encourages and instigates debate on wildlife management from which all will learn."

As Bell says, "on your next safari, make sure to tell African park staff that you've heard of Mweka College and its role in training wildlife managers and identifying conservation challenges."