Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Bee Fence

Hello All!

Sorry I have not updated in while. I will do better, I promise.

Today for our lecture we went to the Burunge Wildlife Management Area. This is one of my favorite parts about this experience, that not only do we learn theories in class we get to go out and practice ithem/see them in action. Today this was a very good thing, as it definitely changed the way I saw what we learned.

A wildlife management area (WMA) is an area that’s put in the trust of local people in order to preserve wildlife and help the development of local communities. It is different from a state park in that people are allowed to live there, to farm and raise livestock. However, the villages who are a part agree to help to preserve the wildlife and share the proceeds that come from the lodges and tourism on the WMA. A council, chosen by the village assemblies, manages the area. It sounds like a great idea, and in theory should work. However, during the presentation it was obvious that the council did not quite understand what they were doing and were primarily focused on economic gain. Our professor even asked about how some of the numbers did not add up (they were written on a poster on the wall) and the council said that they were placed in a bank account and then stated that they did not have enough money to properly equip their patrols, disregarding the amount that was unaccounted for. I know that this sort of corruption is not just an issue in Tanzania, that it is also present in the US and wherever else you go, but it was eye-opening to actually see it happen.

It was also eye-opening to see exactly how much money the tourism industry makes, which is supposed to help the community, and then see the condition that people are in. Visiting a lodge when we go on safaris makes me feel wrong, because of the pristine and extravagant conditions there compared to the rest of the country. It’s being able to see what is happening and not just hear or read about it that is causing me to become more determined to be someone who helps to solve these issues.

Fun fact: elephants are, in fact, terrified of mice. It’s not just a cartoon thing, it’s scientifically proven. A PhD student also recently found that elephants are terrified of bee hives. This could lead to the development of a “bee fence” to protect crops (especially pigeon peas and pumpkins, which elephants love) from the elephant, rather than the killing of crop stealing elephants. As a bonus the farmer would be able to harvest honey, which is a big trade here.

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