Tanzania, United Republic of
About the Implementing organization
Name: Ruaha Carnivore Project
Country: Tanzania, United Republic of
Year of establishment: 2009
Type of organization: Community-based association or organization
Many conservation projects provide benefits to local communities, but few make the explicit link between wildlife protection and the magnitude of benefits. Also, there is often inequity in that the remote communities who live with the most dangerous wildlife and suffer most costs receive the least benefits from conservation. The Ruaha Carnivore Project developed an innovative model - thought to be the first of its kind in Africa - to ensure that there was a transparent, clear link between wildlife conservation on village land and community benefits, and that villagers with more wildlife received more benefits. Local villagers are trained in the use of camera-traps (cameras which automatically photograph an animal as it passes) and employed to set them out and monitor them on village land. Villagers receive points for each wild animal they photograph, with more points for the more potentially dangerous species. These points are swapped for educational, healthcare and veterinary benefits for the community - this engages people in wildlife conservation and incentivises them to maintain wildlife on village land. So far, 12 villages (comprising around 20,000 people) are engaged in the programme, and it has proved an extremely valuable way of providing employment, building capacity, reducing poverty and engaging poeple in conservation. The project is providing information about and training in this model so it can be replicated elsewhere in Tanzania, Africa and beyond.
Type of Action
Protection / Access and benefit sharing / Awareness and education
Sustainable Development Element
Jobs and livelihoods / Health
The initiative is now working across 12 villages, employing 24 people and affecting around 20,000 villagers, and we have seen marked changes in terms of people recognising that the wildlife on their land is now generating valuable benefits for them. We have seen substantially reduced wildlife killing, particularly in terms of poisoning events, which are always extremely damaging for many species, including critically endangered vultures. Villagers have now recorded breeding prides of lions on village land, and instead of killing them have protected them and placed camera-traps in the area to generate more benefits. Sharing the images with the wider community has also improved knowledge of, and interest in, local wildlife and the villages are more engaged in conservation. They are taking their own decisions in terms of how to maximise benefits, such as protecting areas of habitat or reducing poisoning, so it has had marked positive impacts.
Sustainable Development Impacts
The community camera-trapping programme has now generated over US$160,000 of benefits for local villagers, and the project has been recognised by the regional government as the main provider of development assistance in the area. The benefits have been split equally between healthcare, education and veterinary medicine, so have improved livelihoods through better healthcare, improved educational opportunities for primary and secondary-school students, and have reduced livestock deaths due to disease, which has improved the economic security of pastoralist households. The project has trained and employed 24 people, improving their skills and livelihoods,and proving that conservation can generate valuable jobs within the village environment. Overall, the programme has has very substantial positive impacts in terms of improved health, job creation and improved livelihoods for all members of the community, with a clear link to wildlife conservation.
The initiative was established less than 2 years ago, but there is already interest from the national government in how this kind of approach could be scaled up to other similar locations in Tanzania. Any expansion will require commensurate donor funding, but it is a very scalable approach to ensure that people receive tangible and equitable benefits from conserving wildilife on village land.
The project is a founding member of the Pride Lion Conservation Alliance, which was established to help lion conservation projects share initiatives across a wider scale. Later this year, we will be training Mozambican conservationists from the Alliance, with a view of replicating the action in Mozambique's Niassa reserve. There is also interest in replicating it around Rungwa Game Reserve in Tanzania, and the model has also been shared with colleagues in Vietnam who are interested in replicating it there.
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