Land and Resources, Environmental Issues
Dynamite fishing, tsetse fly, Serengeti National Park, elephant ivory, biosphere reserves
A large country with diverse habitats, Tanzania has built a successful tourist industry around its plentiful wildlife. Mammal species found in the wild include antelope, zebra, elephant, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, giraffe, lion, leopard, cheetah, and monkey. There are many environmental threats, however, spurred by the country’s rapidly growing population. The need for fuel and farmland has caused extensive deforestation, and the expansion of agricultural land into arid and semiarid regions threatens many areas with soil loss and desertification. Dynamite fishing has destroyed a large proportion of the country’s extensive offshore coral reefs. In addition, vast regions are infested with the tsetse fly, which transmits sleeping sickness. Tsetse control programs are controversial because they use pesticides that harm wildlife. Finally, poaching remains a serious problem, especially for elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn.
Open, relatively dry forests and woodlands cover about a third of Tanzania. Wetlands, including coastal mangrove swamps as well as inland systems such as lake shores, floodplains, and swamps, make up about 6 percent of the land. Tanzania’s relatively well-organized protected land system has received substantial foreign logistical support and aid. The main elements are forest reserves, game reserves, and national parks, including Serengeti National Park. Two biosphere reserves have been declared under the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Man and the Biosphere Program.
Tanzania has ratified international environmental agreements pertaining to endangered species, hazardous wastes, and law of the sea. Regionally, the country participates in the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources and has cooperative wildlife protection agreements with Kenya.
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