A third of Tanzania is protected.
From its stunning Indian Ocean beaches to the shores of Lake Victoria, from the arable plains of its central plateau to the heights of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania is a jewel of East Africa. It is the largest country in the region, formed in 1964 by the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Among Tanzania’s neighbors are Kenya to the north and Mozambique to the south, with multiple landlocked nations to its west relying on it for access to the coast.
Agriculture is Tanzania’s economic mainstay, accounting for almost 70 percent of employment and contributing nearly 30 percent to its GDP. The economy has been growing at about 6 percent each year since 2002 until 2017 when it reached an all-time high growth rate of nearly 11 percent, thanks to gold and other mineral production as well as a healthy tourism industry.
Tanzania’s natural beauty and sheer density of plant and wildlife species make it a top destination for ecotourists. Almost a third of the country is protected, providing habitat for scores of species across 16 national parks and community wildlife management areas. A wide variety of Africa’s large mammals can be found within its borders, including lions, hippos, elephants, zebra, and wildebeest, whose mass migration through the Serengeti is a major draw for safaris.
The Challenge Today
When humans and wildlife fight over land, no one wins.
As with other African nations, the majority of Tanzanians are forced to live off of the land, which, in turn, compromises it. With trees often the only source for fuel, deforestation has led to soil erosion. Overgrazing by livestock has led to desertification in some parts of the country forcing subsistence farmers to venture closer to wildlife to find fertile land.
Clashes are inevitable. Elephants, zebras, and other species destroy crops. Distraught farmers resort to killing wildlife to protect their livelihoods. The increase in retaliatory killings of elephants ultimately reduces the tolerance of the local communities towards wildlife and even turns some into willing international poaching syndicates. Individual conflicts like this pale in comparison to the massive wildebeest migration: As the herds move, predators follow and nomadic herders’ helpless livestock is caught in the middle. New development interrupts this iconic migration.
Protection alone isn’t enough. Providing Tanzanians with sustainable ways to raise crops and livestock, as well as providing other economic opportunities, will not only take the stress off the land, it will avoid deadly run-ins with wildlife.
Wildlife crimes have reached unprecedented rates, threatening the existence of Tanzania’s iconic wildlife.
The Tsavo-Mkomazi landscape is a critical stronghold for elephants. With its porous border, this landscape is both a source of illegal wildlife products and a place of transit for contraband en route to Mombasa seaport in Kenya — one of the major ports of exit for ivory in Africa.
Meeting the Challenge
Our solutions to protecting Tanzania's unique biodiversity:
Through African Wildlife Foundation’s Canine for Conservation program, these trained canines and their handlers increase security at mass transit sites and disrupt the global wildlife trade. With support from our partner, Gordon and Patricia Gray Animal Foundation, canine heroes and their handlers are active at wildlife trafficking checkpoints in airports, seaports, and border crossings in Tanzania to uncover illegal shipments of ivory, rhino horn, and other wildlife products.
AWF also initiated a project to secure the Tsavo-Mkomazi elephant population by improving anti-poaching patrol capacity by recruiting and empowering local community scouts, reducing human-wildlife conflict.
In collaboration with IUCN, AWF has been implementing the Sustainability and Inclusion Strategy for Growth Corridors in Africa (SUSTAIN) in the Kilombero landscape since 2015.
The program supports communities on land and forest restoration, water source management, climate-smart agriculture, food security, climate resilience, and business partnerships for inclusive green growth.
In collaboration with the Kilombero District Council, Kilombero Nature Reserve, and Rufiji Basin Water Office, AWF-trained community members from across the Kilombero Valley on sustainable natural resource management to promote agriculture that is better for the environment and prevents overuse of the area’s resources.
We are also actively protecting the region’s precious water resources by supporting Water User Associations to manage water resources, monitor water flow and quality, and restore riverine areas.
Manyara Ranch is located between Lake Manyara National Park and Tarangire National Park and acts as a critical migratory route between the two parks. The ranch is also one of northern Tanzania’s most important breeding sites for the vulnerable giraffe.
AWF is managing the ranch on behalf of Monduli District Council and has developed the ranch into a multi-use wildlife sanctuary with a high-quality livestock program and thriving wildlife population.
The ranch’s livestock breeding program is not only improving the community livestock quality, but our predator-proof bomas are ensuring that livestock is protected from predation. By providing people with sustainable livelihood alternatives, like thriving livestock programs, we can reduce their reliance on natural resources.
Through AWF’s Classroom Africa initiative, AWF also rehabilitated and moved Manyara Ranch’s primary school which was previously located in the path of migrating species. Today, the school is one of the top performing primary schools in Tanzania, with its students consistently outperforming the national averages in the country’s public school system.