Working in partnership with Singita, the Fund’s mission is to contribute to the conservation of the Serengeti ecosystem, its natural landscape, and its wildlife. Active conservation management, collaboration with local communities, technological innovations and the deployment of hands-on conservation and law enforcement professionals allows the Fund to achieve tangible change and sustainable results.
Singita Grumeti concessions are found in the western corridor of the Serengeti ecosystem (350,000 acres of land that forms a critical buffer zone for the iconic Serengeti National Park).
The concession is managed jointly by private (Singita Grumeti Fund) and government (TAWA, WMA authorities) partners. The area consists of Grumeti and Ikorongo Game Reserves, the Ikona WMA, Makundusi village grazing land, and the Sasakwa concession.
The poaching and wildlife trade problem
Species affected African Elephant Loxodonta africana , Black Rhino Diceros bicornis , Lebombo Cycad Encephalartos lebomboensis , Modjadji Cycad Encephalartos transvenosusProducts in trade
Elephant ivory and rhino horn are highly sought after products in IWT, used as status symbols, ornaments, and traditional eastern medicines.
Lebombo and Modjadji cycad are threatened by poaching/illegal harvesting for private collections (horticultural trade) and trade in traditional medicine. Encephalartos is traded at traditional medicine markets in Southern Africa in the form of bark strips and stem sections.
Overview of the problem
The vast majority of poaching incidents at Grumeti involves commercial and subsistence bush-meat poaching (a cultural tradition), however, elephant poaching for ivory is a constant and increasing concern.
Retaliation in response to human-wildlife conflict is also present, exacerbated by the reliance of the local communities on small-scale agricultural enterprise, which makes them vulnerable to any losses sustained by wildlife. Killing and funneling animal products into IWT can compensate for these losses.
The anti-IWT initiative
The Grumeti Fund combines cutting-edge technology with well-trained boots on the ground to combat this dual-poaching threat. We have established 12 permanent scout patrol camps and a network of high-lying Observation Posts which are manned 24/7. Furthermore, a state-of-the-art digital radio network and accompanying law enforcement database ensure Grumeti’s limited resources are deployed efficiently and effectively.
A team of 100 game scouts have been employed. All of these men come from the local communities bordering the concessions, and the vast majority have a history of poaching involvement. Scouts undergo continuous training to maintain high standards of efficiency and safety. This includes following a strict fitness schedule, weapons training, self-defense courses, trauma medical training, and radio communication protocols.
Stationed across the 350,000-acre reserve - at camps or in Observation Posts, as a free-ranging Mobile Patrol Unit or as part of the Special Operations Group - these scouts are responsible for protecting the fauna and flora that has rebounded over the past 15 years in this critical area of the western Serengeti.
The Joint Intelligence Unit is a collaboration between the Grumeti Fund Law Enforcement Department and the Tanzanian Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA). This small clandestine unit relies upon on a network of informers from the surrounding villages and communities to provide us with invaluable intelligence on poacher movements. This is of critical importance to ensuring our anti-poaching work is proactive rather than reactive. We strive to apprehend poachers entering the concessions rather than engaging and arresting them after wildlife has already been killed.
Within the game scout force, there is an elite special operations unit comprising 18 high-performing scouts that have proven themselves to be the best of the best: game scouts with unquestionable integrity and the highest work ethic. They are provided with ongoing advanced training and high-tech equipment, as they are tasked with confronting the most serious security threats to the Grumeti concessions. They are deployed as rapid reaction units to engage active poaching threats as well as safeguard the Critically Endangered black rhino.
Community Development and Education
Community members, village leaders, and government representatives participated in a large survey to understand the local community's pressing needs and concerns. The community outreach program, which is focused on improving livelihoods through education, enterprise development, and environmental awareness, was designed to address these.
The Grumeti Fund developed and launched UPLIFT (Unlocking Prosperous Livelihoods for Tomorrow). This is a community outreach program designed to enhance the livelihoods of individuals living along the boundary of the concessions. In a corner of Tanzania where 99% of wage earners are farmers – an occupation that is extremely vulnerable to external threats such as climate change and crop-raiding elephants – the Grumeti Fund is giving individuals the knowledge, tools and resources needed to provide for themselves, their families and their communities as a whole. UPLIFT employs a three-pronged approach to enhance livelihood security: assisting youth to achieve higher levels of education; increasing income generation opportunities; and promoting the peaceful coexistence of wildlife and humans.
The Grumeti Fund is enhancing the quality of education provided to youth from local communities to equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to pursue rewarding and successful careers. Support is provided in the form of scholarships for secondary school, vocational studies and education within the conservation and tourism sectors. For a hands-on experience, scholarship recipients are paired with a mentor from Grumeti Fund and provided with life skills training and internship opportunities within the organization.
Across all of the Grumeti Fund educational programs, girls empowerment is a key focus. Events for girls addressing empowerment, health, confidence, body image and career development are held several times a year.
The Fund’s focus on education extends to the environment and the critical role each individual plays in minimizing their impact on the earth’s limited resources. At the Environmental Education Center, students are accompanied by their teacher are exposed to critical environmental issues such as deforestation, soil erosion and water conservation that affects each and every one of them.
At the same time that the Grumeti Fund’s law enforcement operations work to eliminate wildlife poaching, alternative options for income generation need to be developed to help households that rely on poaching make ends meet. The Grumeti Fund has partnered with Raizcorp – a business incubator that has a proven track-record of success in business development.
The enterprise development program consists of two key components: Guiding and Village Learning. Guiding is a high-touch entrepreneurial development approach providing intensive one-on-one business support to entrepreneurs to help them enhance business development skills, whereas Village Learning consists of weekly sessions for budding entrepreneurs on business skills and personal development.
Inclusion of gender, age and ethnic groups
Community outreach and education activities include empowerment sessions for girls.
Strengthening disincentives for illegal behaviour
- 120 eco-guards/scouts from the villages surrounding villages are employed. There is an intensive selection process, and training is provided. The scouts' duties include daily patrols and various conservation activities, including during fire season and alien plant removal.
- Special Operation Team (SOT): 18 elite rangers have been selected from the scout group and have been provided with ongoing advanced training and high-tech equipment. SOT reacts to intelligence from the informant network and protects the rhino sanctuary in cooperation with the wildlife divisions of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and Tanzanian government.
- In 2017, to establish sound intel on the poaching networks operating in and around the concessions, a new and improved Joint Intelligence Unit was established.
- Non-monetary incentives are provided in exchange for community intelligence.
Increasing incentives for wildlife stewardship
Tourism - job creation and economic opportunities.
Lease payments - to the Ikona WMA on an annual basis, which benefits the five participating villages.
Scholarships & internship opportunities in the tourism and conservation sector.
Decreasing the costs of living with wildlife
HWC Mitigation Unit has been in operation since 2017. This team responds to calls of active events of HWC and sightings of elephants, carnivores, and other wildlife near settlements.
Elephants are collared and geo-fences have been set up to trigger alerts of approaching animals and management and community members then return the elephants to the reserve. Over 60km of fencing is currently under construction to curb HWC.
Increasing livelihoods that are not related to wildlife
Small and medium enterprise development:
- technical training, business skills development and access to low-interest financing to create sustainable, environmentally-friendly businesses, is provided.
- In partnership with a business incubator, each entrepreneur is guided/mentored for a minimum of 12 months, with weekly one-on-one sessions.
- Village Learning consists of weekly sessions for budding entrepreneurs on business skills and personal development. Each training group consists of approximately 25 participants at a time and sessions run for three consecutive months. Through Village Learning, participants have the opportunity to reflect on and refine their business ideas and approaches, as well as share and solution their entrepreneurial challenges with a trained facilitator (48 entrepreneurs trained in 2017).
- A local cooperative union of 71 members has been established. Men and women in partnership with the Grumeti Horticultural Marketing Cooperative Society (GHOMACOS) trade goods (i.e. vegetables, herbs, fruits, eggs, and meat) to their sister company Grumeti Reserves to provision lodges with food/supplies.
→ In 2016, $280,000 was generated
- Sale of cooking gas (liquid petroleum gas project): with increased access to gas cookers and LPG cylinders, households have reduced their dependence on firewood from local forests, and health is improved
→ 685 households are now using LPG instead of firewood for cooking.
- Local people are provided with support, equipment, and animals for alternative livelihood development. E.g. Honey production through beekeeping project (1000 beehives distributed to families and schools since 2010) and egg production through poultry farming.
- Scholarship program for students in resource-poor families from communities bordering the reserve, for secondary school, vocational college or university on the subject of conservation and eco-tourism sector (e.g. supported a student in BSc in tourism who is now employed by Grumeti Safari) + provide internship opportunities (114 scholarships were awarded in 2017 alone + 18 internships were supported).
- English Immersion camps (90 primary school students in 2017).
- Girls Empowerment sessions: talk about issues such as reproductive health, FGM and menstrual hygiene – topics that are seldom spoken about, but which significantly affect girls (581 secondary school girls participated in 2017).
- Mentorship program, life skills training.
Improving education and awarenessFurther detail
Environmental awareness programmes targeting youth from secondary schools and the communities at large:
- 5 days residential course for students from secondary schools bordering the concessions: 12 children and their teacher come to the environmental education center and go on safari to learn about conservation and critical environmental issues such as deforestation, soil erosion, waste management and water conservation that affect their communities. After the course, these students return to their local schools and communities where they become agents of change - the catalysts for developing conservation clubs, planting indigenous trees, addressing soil erosion...
→ more than 2000 youths visited the environmental education centre and more than half are now participating in school environmental clubs.
Has the initiative made a difference?
We don't have any data on the levels of poaching prior to the SGF in 2012.
Anti-poaching - Key Accomplishments and key indicators of success include:
- A fourfold increase in the elephant population despite the Africa-wide poaching pandemic
- 0 elephants or rhino poached in 2019
- 120 former poachers have been converted to wildlife protectors
- 7237 arrests have been made for poaching and illegal resource extraction
- In 2019, 246 poacher arrests were made, 576 snares were removed and nearly 2,000kg of bushmeat recovered
- 99% response rate from the HWC mitigation unit
Community Development and Education - Key Accomplishments and key indicators of success include:
- Over 45,000 people reached through more than 30 education initiatives in 2019:
- 27 primary school teachers trained in English
- 80 students participated in the Environmental Club Conference
- 162 scholarships awarded in 2019
- Over 3,000 girls attended empowerment events
- 12,400 villagers attended conservation film screenings
We hope to achieve changes in community attitudes following engagement with the environmental education program, job creation, and other economic incentives but have not evaluated attitudinal outcomes.
Factors for success
Long-term donor support that is flexible, adaptive and/or based on realistic time goals
Supportive, multi-stakeholder partnerships with a shared vision
Sufficient time investment in building relationships and trust between the initiative and local communities
Clearly defined tenure or resource use rights
Long-term donor agreements have been instrumental in maintaining program initiatives.
The Fund manages the concession in collaboration with local protected area authorities (TAWA, Ikona WMA) and works with district authorities to respond to conflict and develop intelligence. Supportive relationships have contributed to positive conservation outcomes, but can also be complex to navigate.
Investing time in building relationships has been critical for the development of intelligence networks.
In general, protected area boundaries are clearly demarcated and designations / allowable uses are well established, which supports the implementation of conservation management and law enforcement activities.
Factors that limited or hindered success
Lack of supportive national policy/legislation on sustainable use of natural resources
Lack of coordinated and coherent sectoral policies/legislation (For example, land use planning, agricultural etc...)
Unclear and intangible benefits to local communities from wildlife (These may be financial and/or non-financial)
Supportive national policy on sustainable use of natural resources - National policy dictates what uses are allowable within protected areas, and would limit any local efforts to allow for subsistence use/access to natural resources among community members, even if deemed locally desirable.
Clear and tangible benefits to communities from wildlife - improving direct links between benefits received and wildlife presence is highly desirable.
A large number of local households benefit from employment opportunities and development programs. Linking these benefits to the presence of wildlife, however, is a major challenge.
Basic land use planning policies are in place (e.g. prescribed buffer zones to minimize HWC, dedicated grazing areas with rules for access) but are largely unenforced and not monitored.
Organisers, donors and partners
Singita, Tanzanian Wildlife Division, Tanzanian Wildlife Management Authority,Tanzanian National Parks, Ikona Wildlife Management Area, Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, Frankfurt Zoological Society.
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