We sat down with Jennifer Talbot, Chief of Party of the USAID Promoting Tanzania's Environment, Conservation, and Tourism (PROTECT) Project, which is implemented by RTI International. She discusses the importance of combating wildlife crime, partnering with the private sector to support conservation efforts, and how this work will live on after the project closes at the end of this year.
How did you get involved in animal conservation efforts and why did this field attract you?
I first became interested in biodiversity conservation when my family visited Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks in Montana. This led to a fourth-grade report on the bighorn sheep and a love of wild huckleberry pie! Later, I volunteered in the Peace Corps in Benin, West Africa, working with hunters, beekeepers and traditional healers in a National Forest. My work in this field contributes to a larger global effort to conserve the remaining wild species and wild places still remaining on our beleaguered planet.
Why is combating wildlife crime vital to safeguarding animals and local economies?
In Tanzania, wildlife is one of the main attractions in the tourism sector, which generates significant income and employment for Tanzanians. If we continue to lose iconic species such as elephants, rhinos, lions and giraffes, to wildlife crime, the Tanzanian economy will suffer.