Combating Poaching and Illegal Logging in Tanzania: Voices of the Rangers-Hands-on Experiences from the Field

The senior management of the reserve estimates that the reserve needs some 80 vehicles in order to patrol and protect the area satisfactorily. In terms of rangers’ rifles, the reserve is better-off than reports from other game reserves suggest, for instance Biharamulo, Burigi and Kimisi Game Reserves. Frankfurt Zoological Society, which runs various projects around Tanzania, was at the time of writing supplying Selous Game Reserve with new radio communication devices and GPS devices. Another project is being funded and implemented by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) south of the reserve. Established in 2015, the project is developing the communities on the outskirts of the reserve in order to stop people trespassing across the reserve borders to illegally exploit the protected area’s resources. The WWF is providing EUR 400,000 to this project. According to the Deputy Project Manager (DPM), the scope of elephant poaching in other reserves may be just as large as it is in Selous, but the people organizing the poaching and illegal trade in ivory are interested in keeping the focus on Selous, in order to facilitate their operations elsewhere. During the last three months, only one carcass of a poached elephant has been found, which the DPM believes to be due to the fact that the reserve is well managed and operated. The DPM estimates that the elephant population today totals around 15,000 individuals. Germany recently donated a new aircraft for aerial patrolling. This aircraft comes in addition to one that the reserve already operates which, unlike the new aircraft, is not strictly allocated to Selous only. In 2015, Selous Game Reserve received 270 graduates from Pasiansi Wildlife Training Institute, making the reserve by far the biggest destination duty station for newly trained wildlife officers in Tanzania. According to the DPM, illegal logging and charcoal production is not a big problem in Selous Game Reserve. This may be due to the fact that the area is quite remote, with few big cities and populations nearby. On the other hand, during the last three years there has been a large increase in the number of livestock driven into the game reserve. Up until 2012 this was only a minor problem in these areas, but due to the grazing lands outside protected

illegal logging in the northern part of the Ugalla Game Reserve. In the southern part different kinds of poachers are active, although illegal charcoal production is not a significant problem anywhere in the reserve because of effective patrolling. A lot of the poaching in the south stems from a series of refugee camps surrounding the reserve, the Katumba camp being the biggest, situated about 40–45 km south of the reserve. The refugees typically use bicycles to enter and depart the reserve, where they hunt all kinds of animals that can provide them with meat. A concerted effort in prioritizing tracking, navigating and patrolling, crime-scene management and the knowledge of the law and skills in conveying these in statements for the prosecution has led to strong results in Ugalla Game Reserve. As recently as between 2008 and 2013, the reserve typically had up to 40 elephant carcasses per year in the dry season from July to September. For the last three years, in contrast, not a single carcass has been found. Currently, tracking leads to identification of hotspots and a body of knowledge used by management to effectively plan patrols that last up to two weeks. The follow-ups depend on whether it is the dry or wet season, and can be by boat or on foot. Selous Game Reserve, meeting with Deputy Project Manager 5 April 2016 Selous Game Reserve is about 50,000 km 2 and is divided into 43 hunting blocks, in addition to Matambwe region, where only photography is allowed and hunting is prohibited. The hunting blocks are operated by individuals and companies, both Tanzanian nationals and foreigners. It is the largest game reserve in Africa, and the area stretches across four regions. Fifty per cent of the reserve’s income from regulated trophy hunting goes to the Government as regular national state income. The rest is spent on operating the reserve, i.e. management salaries and operational costs. This not nearly enough to run the daily costs, but funding from various foreign donors ensures enough income for sustainable operations. The Tanzanian Government does not contribute money to cover the operational costs of the reserve. The staff in the reserve totals 712 people, meaning that about half of all Tanzanian game reserve staff belong to Selous Game Reserve. If 75 per cent of these are rangers, this gives a patrol density of 93 km 2 per ranger, which is comparable to Kruger National Park. The reserve has a total of 38 vehicles for all operative and administrative needs. At least 15 of these are too old and in disrepair, and thus non-operational.


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