Frontier’s Tanzania Wildlife Tracking and Community Adventure Project in DEFRA’s Darwin Initiative Newsletter
Into the Wild is very pleased to announce that Frontier’s Wildlife Tracking and Community Adventure Project out in Tanzania has been given special recognition in DEFRA’S Darwin Initiative Newsletter. Out on the project our volunteers have been helping local communities preserve their wildlife corridors and playing an integral role in wildlife conservation. Here at Frontier everyone at London HQ and all our field staff working out in Tanzania are ecstatic and delighted at the news and here’s why…
The Darwin Initiative aims to promote biodiversity, conservation and the sustainable use of resources around the world and as such is it a great honour to be featured in their newsletter which reports on some of the most important conservation and biodiversity projects around the world. Founded at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 by the UK Government the Darwin Initiative helps countries that are rich in biodiversity but poor in financial resources to meet their conservation objectives. Through funding collaborative projects which draw on UK biodiversity expertise the Darwin Initiative assists these countries in meeting the objectives of the conventions of Biological Diversity, the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna and the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.
The Darwin Advisory Committee which consists of experts from government, academic, science and the private sector advises ministers on the development of the Initiative and makes recommendations on applications for funding. As a result the Darwin Initiative has set up numerous collaborative projects worldwide – which are greatly diverse in their aims and objectives with projects addressing issues including institutional capacity building, training, research, environmental education and awareness and the implementation of the Biodiversity Convention.
Out of the 96 active projects funded by the Darwin Initiative in 80 countries around the world – Frontier’s Tanzania Wildlife Tracking and Community Adventure Project was selected to be featured in the newsletter. Frontier received a special mention with a section of the newsletter devoted solely to Frontier’s work in helping locals of the Kilombero valley in Tanzania protect their wildlife corridors.
The Kilombero Valley in Tanzania represents an essential link between the Udzungwa Mountains, part of the Eastern Arc hotspot, and the Selous Game Reserve, the largest protected area in Africa. Our staff and volunteers have been working on the highly threatened Ruipa corridor that allows passage of large mammals between these reserves.
The preservation of this wildlife corridor has recently come under further threat from the expansion of the villages that lie along a main road in close proximity to the Ruipa passage. In order to prevent the growth of these villages from cutting off the corridor to cut off the corridor Frontier has been working with local communities to try and preserve the remaining wildlife corridors in the area. Land Use Management Plans for four villages have been developed in a highly participatory collaboration between Frontier, the District Council and the Village Councils which will not only protect these corridors but allow local people to take control and responsibly manage the development of their villages.
Frontier’s staff and volunteers set up workshops to explain the concepts and local people were elected to map the villages. These representatives were then taught to draw maps and to use GPS’s, ensuring that the maps they produced were trusted by their peers. Through village council meetings and general assemblies, management plans were produced that satisfied everyone. As a result two corridors that allow large mammals to cross from the Kilombero Valley to the Selous were successfully protected and all involved were highly pleased with the outcome.
It is hoped that by providing an alternative to crossing farm land these corridors will also lower human-wildlife conflict. In order to maximise the longevity and impact of these plans over 120 signs are being produced and installed in a collaboration between Frontier field staff and villagers. These plans have also provided a swathe of secondary benefits; the inclusion of dedicated grazing areas will go a long way in calming conflicts between pastoralists and agriculturalists, the negotiation of clear village boundaries has brought an end to many years of boundary disputes and finally the participatory methods have so impressed the District Council that they have taken them on as standard practice. The benefit with the most promise however is a universal enthusiasm for a wildlife management area shared between all villages. The commitment of more than half of village land to the development of a conservation area bodes well for future conservation work.
Head of Research at Frontier's London HQ - Sam Lloyd commented: "I'm really pleased with the way work out on the project is progressing and I'm particularly happy about the major role the local people are having in the project". Frontier is hugely proud of all our staff and volunteers that worked so hard to make this project a success – thank you all for your amazing contribution.
By Hannah Jones