Tourism is vital to Tanzania’s economy. In 2015 it accounted for 17 percent of the country’s GDP and a quarter of its total foreign currency. The country’s giraffes, elephants, rhinoceroses, and lions attract 1.5 million tourists annually who patronize tour companies, hotels, restaurants, and other local businesses.
However, Tanzania’s tourism, worth $2.4 billion a year, is threatened by rampant animal poaching and trafficking, human-wildlife conflict and habitat loss, all of which harm its biodiversity. These issues had led to a 60 percent loss of Tanzania’s elephant population in just five years, between 2009 and 2014.
The country’s weak or non-existent conservation policies, insufficient resources, and a legal system that lacked the capacity to effectively prosecute wildlife crime cases made it difficult to address these biodiversity concerns.
In 2015, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the Promoting Tanzania’s Environment, Conservation, and Tourism (PROTECT) project, led by RTI. The five-year USAID PROTECT project focused on strengthening institutions and building capacity so that Tanzanians could better protect their biodiversity and safeguard their economic growth.