RUAHA, TANZANIA (January 13, 2015) – The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Governments of Tanzania and the United States, including USAID, announced the launch of a new joint program to save East Africa’s largest elephant population in the Ruaha-Katavi Landscape.
The partnership will cover Tanzania’s Southern Highlands and Ruaha-Katavi Protection Program (SHARPP) implemented by WCS with the Government of Tanzania and represents a renewed commitment to the organization’s work in the country. The 110,000-square-kilometer landscape consists of a mosaic of national parks and wildlife management areas, along with game, forest, and nature reserves and public land.
Along with tremendous wildlife resources, the region contains some of East Africa’s most critical habitats for human livelihoods, agriculture, water, and hydroelectricity (the source and upper reaches of the Great Ruaha River), along with tourism, biodiversity and conservation.
But the region is under threat from unsustainable resource use and subsequent biodiversity loss fueled by economic insecurity, population growth, and governance challenges, as well as a huge demand for ivory, which fuels poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. SHARPP will combine conservation, law enforcement and sustainable development approaches that target these drivers in order to reduce direct threats to wildlife and ecosystem services.
A key SHARPP priority is the improved protection of Eastern Africa’s most important elephant population, including the Ruaha and Katavi populations which together number roughly 25,000 individuals. SHARPP will ensure the safety of elephants in core areas by building protection and improving law enforcement and prosecution. The project will apply new approaches to anti-poaching and law enforcement including SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool), intelligence-based anti-trafficking, detection dogs, and making use of training and lessons learned from intelligence experience in Central Africa and Asia. SHARPP will strengthen the anti-poaching capacity of protected area rangers, and introduce proven interventions, such as crime scene management, to complement existing law enforcement activities. Aerial surveillance and ground patrols of Ruaha and Katavi National Parks, Game Reserves and associated buffer areas, in coordination with the Wildlife Division and the new Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA), and four Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), will complement these interventions, allowing a comprehensive real-time picture of poaching and management issues.
WCS President and CEO Cristián Samper said: “Tanzania is incredibly important as a center for biodiversity in Eastern Africa. SHARPP will help preserve this wildlife richness as well as help safeguard the human livelihoods that rely on the region’s rich natural resources.”
WCS Tanzania Country Director Tim Davenport said: “This partnership will enable WCS to further develop two of its most important conservation landscapes; the Southern Highlands and the Ruaha ecosystem. Through investment in WMAs, natural habitats, human livelihoods and elephant protection we hope to make a real difference to one of East Africa’s most important – and beautiful – areas.”
Other elements of SHARPP include:
John Delaney: (1-718-220-3275; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Stephen Sautner: (1-718-220-3682; email@example.com)
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. VISION: WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: www.wcs.org; www.facebook.com/TheWCS; www.youtube.com/user/WCSMedia Follow: @thewcs.