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News Article

Community-based wildlife management shows ecological success

Tanzanian project gives more wild animals and fewer cattle

Tourism is the largest source of foreign exchange in Tanzania, and makes up around 17% of GDP. Tanzania received around 1.28 million visitors in 2016, with wildlife the major attraction for foreign tourists. But there is conflict in many areas between wildlife conservation and land requirements of local people. Locals can be excluded from traditional land, and forbidden to hunt wild animals, but often get little or no share of the revenues brought in by tourism. To bring benefits to local communities, there are Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) which consist of multiple villages designating land for wildlife conservation, and sharing a portion of subsequent tourism revenues. Nineteen WMAs are currently operating, encompassing 7% of Tanzania’s land area, with 19 more WMAs planned. A new paper published by Derek Lee and Monica Bond in the Journal of Mammalogy examines the performance of WNAs for wildlife conservation. The authors conducted surveys for wild and domestic ungulates over a four year period in Randilen WMA and in an adjacent control site in Lolkisale Game Controlled Area (LGCA). The WMA has ranger patrols intended to reduce poaching of wildlife and to reduce livestock and pastoralist presence in the WMA, and the study conducted surveys before and after the WMA was established.

The authors documented similarity between the sites before WMA establishment, when both sites were managed by the same authority. After WMA establishment, they documented significantly higher densities of resident wildlife (giraffes and dik-diks) and lower densities of cattle in the WMA, relative to the control site, indicating short-term ecological success. One resident ungulate (impala) and 1 migratory species (zebra) showed similarities in density over time between Randilen WMA and LGCA in the before period, but no difference was detected in 2015 after the establishment and management of Randilen WMA. All surveyed species were observed in both sites before and after the establishment of the WMA, so no change in ungulate community composition was evident.

It is suggested that change in densities of resident wildlife following WMA establishment could be due to several mechanisms, but is most likely the result of a change in spatial distribution following the shifted distribution of livestock and pastoralists and implementation of protective anti-poaching patrols in Randilen WMA. Giraffes may have shifted their distribution into the WMA as a result of lower relative density of humans and livestock inside the WMA.

Continued monitoring is necessary to determine longer-term effects, and to evaluate management decisions. It is suggested that ideally, locally based monitoring schemes should replace foreign scientists, as locally based monitoring has the potential to reinforce community-led resource management systems and lead to more sustainable wildlife conservation.

Reference (open access)

Lee DE, Bond ML. 2018. Quantifying the ecological success of a community-based wildlife conservation area in Tanzania. Journal of Mammalogy. DOI:10.1093/jmammal/gyy014

Article details

  • Author(s)
  • David Simpson
  • Date
  • 06 March 2018
  • Subject(s)
  • Tourism