Michael is one of our most experienced guides. He has been with us since 2009 and knows the company and our guests like no other. He studied at Mweka, the well-known College for African Wildlife Management, and still keeps in touch with his professors to stay up to date with the latest developments in nature conservation – a topic very close to his heart.
We caught up with him to speak about his views on the state of nature conservation in Tanzania.
Michael, you spend most of your time outdoors and in Tanzania’s national parks. You have a keen interest in nature and wildlife conservation. Which challenges is Tanzania facing in this regard?
Many people would refer to poaching as one of the biggest challenges for nature conservation. And while I agree this is a problem, there are a lot of other challenges as well. The increase in population, for example, leads to an increase in human-wildlife-conflicts. More people need more space, which equals less space for wildlife.
Another challenge are alien plants. By this we mean plants that are non-native to the area and brought in from outside. They can impact the ecosystem negatively. The local farmers’ grazing cattle carries these plants closer to the national parks and protected areas.
What are commonly discussed solutions to these challenges?
It’s obviously very tricky to find solutions; otherwise, we would have done it already. One approach is the resettlement of villages further away from protected areas. However, the important – and very difficult – thing is to ensure that the villagers don’t lose their social networks and their cultural context.
I believe that tourism – if practised responsibly – is a powerful tool to protect our national parks. As long as people are interested in visiting our national parks, the country has one more reason to protect them.
Is there anything that you in your role as a safari guide can do to promote nature conservation?
When I’m out on safari with my guests, and I get the sense that they are interested in this topic, I definitely share with them as much information as possible. And most travellers coming to Tanzania are very keen to find out more. I am hoping that they share their new knowledge with their friends and family at home. It’s my way of raising awareness.
It’s also important to raise awareness here at home. My mother is a primary school teacher in Dar es Salaam; whenever I go home to Dar, I visit her school and give talks on nature conservation to the young learners. I try to make them understand the beauty of our country and to appreciate the natural treasures that we have and need to preserve.
To join Michael or one of his colleagues on a safari and learn about Tanzania’s rich wildlife and nature, get in touch today!