The President of WWF International Yolanda Kakabadse a week ago awarded Nineteen Wildlife Management Areas – WMA in Tanzania the award for ‘WWF Leaders for a Living Planet’ in acknowledgement to their outstanding conservation efforts.

The award was recently presented by Kakabadse to the Chairperson of Authorized Association Consortium – AAC Amiri Mataka for the exceptional achievements in conserving of Wildlife resources, protection of habitats vital for the survival of endangered species as well as to notably contribute to the overall sustainable wildlife conservation in village lands within Tanzania,

The Burunge Wildlife Management Area which is found in Manyara, a nearby region to Arusha, together with eighteen other WMAs within the country, where as well recognized.

WMAs are resource management areas that are owned by the community, basically situated close to high-value safeguarded areas. They offer a means for communities to economically benefit from managing of wildlife plus other natural resources in an environmentally sustainable way.

The nineteen WMAs, that serve 146 villages in a 28,389 sq km area having a total resident population of 410,000; are habitat to a number of well known species within Tanzania.

Among the delegates that attended the award ceremony included John Salehe the Director of African Wildlife Foundation – AWF, Mr. Bell’Aube Houinato the Country Director of WWF Tanzania, Ramadhani Ismail the Burunge WMA Speaker, Leonard Mayeta, Asukile Kajuni the Deputy Coordinator of WWF Tanzania Community Based Natural Resources Management, Nashon Makokecha the Officer of Babati District Game – DGO as well as representative from the Tanzania Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.

The Visitor’s Center found at the Burunge Wildlife Management Area within Babati District, in the Manyara area was officially opened on 5th February. Building of this Visitor’s Center was backed by USAID. The chief guest at the event was David J. Hayes the Deputy Secretary for U.S. Department of the Interior, and U.S. Sharon L. Cromer the Director USAID/Tanzania Mission, Ambassador Alfonso Lenhardt, and the Honorable Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki who was then Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism were some of the notable dignitaries who took part in the official opening.

Wildlife Management Areas are conservation areas that are owned and managed by the community. Situated next to national parks plus other wildlife protected areas; the WMAs offer a buffer to assist conserve the wild animals and safeguard them from poachers. The villages plus communities within the WMA are offered “user rights” therefore they can gain from their wildlife resources as well as the income generated from tourism. At the moment there are Seventeen established WMAs across Tanzania. USAID has greatly supported the overall development of these WMAs across Tanzania ever since 1998.