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Strengthening the capacity of Wildlife Management Areas to increase wildlife protection in northern Tanzania

Current initiative


Makame Wildlife Management Area Village Game Scout planning session.

Makame WMA Village Game Scout planning session. Credit: Honeyguide

Honeyguide Foundation is working in partnership with three Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and one Canine Unit across northern Tanzania, to build capacity for community-based anti-poaching efforts. The focus is to help communities from these programme areas to protect their lands and wildlife from illegal or unsustainable use. To do this, Honeyguide is supporting the management teams of each programme area by providing training and financial help, conducting awareness raising, and incentivising conservation using Village Game Scouts (VGS).


Honeyguide Foundation, the WMAs and community partners, and NTRI partners.


The three WMAs sit within the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem:

Randilen WMA in Monduli district, Arusha

Manyara Ranch in Monduli district, Manyara

Makame WMA in Kiteto district, Manyara

The Canine (k9) Unit is based in Serengeti National Park

These four programme areas cover more than 5000 km² of critical habitat.

The poaching and wildlife trade problem

Species affected African Elephant Loxodonta africana

Products in trade

Ivory for international markets. 

  • Currently no ivory poaching in the areas of operations for the last 4 years. Other animals poached are for local bush meat market and not international trade. This includes giraffes, elands, dik-diks, gazelles etc.

Overview of the problem

Honeyguide has been working with the 3 WMAs since 2015 (or before), when poaching of elephants for ivory was more widespread throughout Tanzania. An average of 2-3 elephants a year were poached in each of these WMAs, usually by local people hoping to increase their income. Currently, there is no elephant poaching in the WMAs, with the last incident reported in May 2015.  It is thought that the programme has contributed to this success.

Poaching for bushmeat is more common although this is also starting to decrease in the WMAs.

The anti-IWT initiative

The main objective of the programme is to elevate community-led wildlife protection in the WMAs against illegal or unsustainable use. Each WMA has member communities, who each contributed land towards the designation of the WMA. The employees of each WMA should all come from these member communities, including forming the leadership and management teams. Honeyguide works closely with these teams to build capacity to manage poaching within each WMA.


The key activities are:

  • Raising awareness among communities about the benefits of anti-poaching.
  • Training Village Game Scouts (VGS) on anti-poaching techniques. Support involves guiding management teams on best practices of community-based wildlife protection, building foundational infrastructures, providing equipment for the VGS and paying salaries where needed. VGS are from the member communities of each WMA.
  • Reducing costs of wildlife protection for the WMAs, as this currently accounts for 60-75% of WMA management expenditure.
  • Designation of a grazing area for cattle in the dry season and wildlife in the wet season. Most of the member communities are pastoralists, so access to pasture is extremely important. Honeyguide is helping to pilot this method to encourage coexistence between livestock and wildlife. VGS patrol the area in the wet season to ensure the grass is healthy for when the cattle return in the dry season.  
  • Tracker dogs are another inexpensive and highly effective part of Honeyguide’s model for wildlife protection. Tracker dogs have assisted in catching almost all poachers that have shot elephants in the WMAs the programme is supporting, and Honeyguide is working with a Canine Unit in the Serengeti as part of this activity.
  • Supporting community anti-poaching teams to liaise with government departments such as the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) and Wildlife Division (WD) regarding anti-poaching activities.

Inclusion of gender, age and ethnic groups

In the programme areas no ethnic groups are excluded - all have the right to be employed and to participate in community decision making for natural resource management. 

The strategy

Strengthening disincentives for illegal behaviour

Paid in money community scouts
Performance-based payments/incentives for patrolling or guarding
Monetary incentives for community intelligence
Raising community awareness about wildlife crime penalties and sanctions
Further detail

Scouts are paid monthly salaries for daily patrolling, either on foot, motorbike or car. Additionally, they receive a predefined amount as a reward for arrests and seizures, for example ivory or bushmeat poaching arrests. The VGS are also given bonuses according to patrol efforts, measured by specific indicators set to improve efficient and effectiveness in law enforcement.

Community informants are also incentivised to provide information that leads to arrests.

Increasing incentives for wildlife stewardship

Trophy hunting
Lease payments
Payments for ecosystem services
Further detail

Communities benefit from wildlife by receiving a % of revenue from photographic tourism and trophy hunting, which comes via a government ministry.

Communities also generate revenue from the designation of a grazing area set aside for cattle in the dry season and wildlife in the wet season.

Decreasing the costs of living with wildlife

Preventive measures to deter wildlife
Reactive measures to deal with problem animals
Physical separation of people/livestock and wildlife
Further detail

Honeyguide developed a toolkit to deter wildlife from destroying crops and predating livestock. This is a sequential toolkit methodology designed to disturb and chase wildlife that are invading farms, predating livestock or found near human settlements, without harming them.  Normally these animals invade during the night so the method will be to start with a horn -> torch -> Fire cracker -> Roman candle.

Increasing livelihoods that are not related to wildlife

Provision of community-level benefits
Further detail

The money accrued from tourism is directed to the development of community infrastructure, such as building schools, clinics, village offices, plus activities like water drilling.

Honeyguide is also supporting the WMAs to create Community Investment Funds, which will formalise the process of directing revenue to development projects.

Improving education and awareness

Further detail

Honeyguide has prepared films to improve education and awareness in member communities on the importance of conserving natural resources.

Has the initiative made a difference?

The community-based anti-poaching model of the programme has had a significant impact on wildlife in the WMAs, with no elephants poached in all the areas Honeyguide works since 2015.

Although no formal study has been undertaken on community attitudes, observations and ad hoc information indicate that attitudes towards wildlife and conservation have massively improved.

What works and why

The programme shows that community-led anti-poaching can be effective, especially when best practice is applied where communities are the primary stakeholder and are involved in designing and developing ideas – this is particularly important as poachers tend to come from these local communities.  

Factors for success

Sufficient time investment in building relationships and trust between the initiative and local communities

Devolved decision-making power so local communities have a voice in creating or co-creating solutions (as part of the initiative)

Effective and accountable community-based natural resources management institutions

What doesn’t work and why

A key challenge is access to consistent donor funding, as a drop in donors leads to delayed or cancelled work. A lack of sufficient operational resources, such as vehicles is also a challenge. In addition, government contributions and investments in WMAs has been limited.

Factors that limited or hindered success

Lack of supportive national policy/legislation for devolved governance of natural resources

Lack of coordinated and coherent sectoral policies/legislation (For example, land use planning, agricultural etc...)

Lack of long-term donor support that is flexible, adaptive and/or based on realistic time goals

Organisers, donors and partners

Honeyguide Foundation leads strategic implementation, providing coaching and equipment. During the first few years of operations Honeyguide will also providing funding support until the WMAs and communities are able and can afford operational expenses.

The WMAs and community partners lead all operations on the ground using their employed staff and local Village Game Scouts (VGS).

NTRI partners (through Honeyguide) share technical and organizational skills, knowledge, resources, relationships and experiences that are needed to reach diverse stakeholder groups, influence policies, engage with communities and support operations.


Honeyguide works in partnership with each WMA management team and NTRI. NTRI is an umbrella of ten NGOs working in northern Tanzania including Honeyguide, The Nature Conservancy, Tanzania People and Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation Society, Ujamaa CRT, OIKOS, Carbon Tanzania, Maliasili and Pathfinder.

Reference links:

Donors include The Nature Conservancy, Lion Recovery Fund, USAID plus private individual and foundations.

For further information contact (