WWF on Monday welcomed a move by the Tanzanian government to stop mining in the Selous Game Reserve, home to elephants, lions, hippos and African wild dogs.
A statement issued by WWF in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam said the Tanzanian government stated its position to stop mining activities in the game reserve through the Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA).
WWF made the statement in response to a report released on Friday by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.
The IUCN’s report recognized the progress the government of Tanzania and its partners, including WWF, were making towards solving the critical poaching problem facing the Selous.
As of January, the WWF said, there were 48 prospective mining concessions overlapping the Selous, adding that these will now not be opened for exploration and no future ones will be granted.
The statement said the WWF appreciated the joint work with the government and partners to deliver strong anti-poaching progress that has reduced the poaching of elephants and other wildlife in the reserve.
“WWF will continue these efforts taking a zero poaching approach to help recover the Selous’ elephant and black rhino populations,” said the statement.
“Safeguarding Selous will not only protect its globally important wildlife but also the local communities that depend on the reserve for their livelihoods,” said the statement.
“The end of the threat of mining is great progress towards saving Selous World Heritage site,” said Amani Ngusaru, WWF Tanzania Country Director.
He added that mining concessions overlapped over six percent of the reserve and would have severely impacted on its ecology.
However, Ngusaru said the reserve continued to face a number of major threats, including a large proposed hydropower scheme at the heart of the Selous, oil and gas exploration, and the threat of pollution from a uranium mine on its border.
Selous Game Reserve is one of the largest wilderness areas in Afric,a covering an area of 50,000 square kilometers.
It was once home to 110,000 elephants but industrial scale poaching resulted in a loss of almost 90 percent of the population in the last 40 years.
In 1982 Selous was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. However it was inscribed onto the World Heritage in Danger List in 2014 due to rampant poaching and industrial activities, such as mining, oil and gas development and a hydropower dam proposal. Enditem