tenBoma is a wildlife security initiative that safeguards the iconic African elephant and thousands of other species living in the landscapes they call home. tenBoma - meaning ten houses - is inspired by an African community security philosophy that if ten houses look out for each other, the broader community is safer. Similarly, IFAW partners with local communities, governments and enforcement agencies like the Kenya Wildlife Service to create a coordinated system of eyes and ears that can monitor, predict and prevent poaching and other threats to wildlife.
Kenya’s unique elephant population forms a major tourist attraction and acts as a keystone species for the entire ecosystem. The Tsavo Conservation Area, one of Kenya’s top five tourist destinations, is home to approximately 12,850 African elephants. Among this population are at least 11 of the world’s 30 or so remaining ‘big tuskers’, elephants whose gigantic tusks reach almost to the ground. However, the elephants face a mortal threat from the increased demand for ivory, the complexity of poaching and trafficking networks, and increased human-elephant conflict.
tenBoma works across multiple landscapes, with a primary area of focus within the Amboseli ecosystem. The largest community lands in the Amboseli ecosystem; an area extending from the border of Tanzania almost completely buffering Amboseli National Park. The area is home to 90% of the wildlife dispersal and corridor area in the landscape. Approximately 2000 elephants call Amboseli home, but more than 20,000 elephants migrate through this critical cross-border landscape which includes the Kitenden Corridor.
Apart from wildlife, Kenya is also home to indigenous pastoralist communities, such as the Maasai people. Wildlife and Maasai have coexisted for millennia, shadowing each other’s movements throughout the seasons. However, only 8% of the landmass of Kenya is protected area for wildlife, while 70% of Kenya’s wildlife lives outside this area together with the Kenyan population – estimated at 50 million people.
The poaching and wildlife trade problem
Species affected African Elephant Loxodonta africana , Hippos Hippopotamus amphibious , RhinosProducts in trade
Ivory and rhino horn: trophies, medicinal uses, and ornaments.
Overview of the problem
The areas are hotspots for elephant poaching, especially in Tsavo (the first location for the initiative).
The anti-IWT initiative
IWT is the key focus of this initiative.
In summary, tenBoma is the creation of integrated networks involving local and global communities united with one goal: to predict and prevent a poacher's next strike, with the primary goal of saving wildlife and securing landscapes. tenBoma, means ten houses, and is inspired by an African community security philosophy that if ten houses look out for each other, the broader community is safer : tenBoma has established an integrated system of eyes and ears which predict and interdict poaching of iconic species before the animal is killed.
Partnering with local communities, governments and enforcement agencies, such as the Kenyan Wildlife Service, tenBoma creates a coordinated system of eyes and ears that can monitor, predict and prevent poaching, and other threats to wildlife.
The initiative embeds specialised advisors and mentors within these communities who can witness illegal activity and create an integrated conduit for information, reporting and analysis, which drives highly effective enforcement operations to stop the wildlife trafficking cycle and dismantle criminal networks.
It takes a network to defeat a network. Poachers are part of larger criminal organizations and supply chains that also include smugglers, dealers and other support personnel. To stay one step ahead of these criminal networks, IFAW needed to create an organized wildlife security network that is nimble and fast-acting.
We did this by enabling effective information sharing among our partners. IFAW combines high-tech data analysis using satellites and computers with information collected from wildlife rangers and local communities, who keep a watchful eye for suspicious activities. This seemingly disparate information is aggregated to create actionable information about would-be poachers and other threats to wildlife. The information is then shared directly with field teams who can counter those threats before they materialize on the ground.
A range of strategies that engage local communities have been utilised, for example, training and employing community scouts; the provision of scholarships to local people to become more educated in wildlife conservation, and thus more employable in this field (e.g. as rangers or as safari tour guides), and increasing alternative livelihood options (e.g. fish farms, bee-keeping, cattle management). Raising the level and understanding of conservation and the IWT is also undertaken.
Inclusion of gender, age and ethnic groups
Women are also empowered through engagement, education, leadership and greater opportunities for income generation.
Strengthening disincentives for illegal behaviour
• Provide training, mentorship and support to community rangers. Some of them are employed by IFAW.
• Community intelligence is a key element and tenBoma works to build a community of trust, both within the community itself and between tenBoma and the community to ensure that active and accurate flows of information are being past on at the speed of relevance.
• Community engagement is key. tenBoma works in various ways to build community trust and enagements. We directly work with Community Rangers, engaging in capacity building both through resources and analytic capacity training. In addition, we perform Village Stability Operations (VSO's). These allow tenBoma community officers to engage with the individual communities to better understand the landscape, conflict, and current situations on the ground. Lastly, we work with several Female Engagement Teams (FET's).
The tenBoma FET is modeled off the Female Engagement Teams employed during the Iraq War in early 2006 and later in Afghanistan and other locations. Goals of FETs in counter-insurgency operations are centered around influencing local communities in insurgent-held areas through gender lens-based training, education, outreach and socio-economic empowerment. Additionally, to build relationships of trust and partnership to increase threat-related reporting in key areas. The tenBoma FET model takes a similar approach to achieve similar goals for the female segments of communities in wildlife conflict and crime affected areas.
Increasing incentives for wildlife stewardship
Scholarships have been awarded to local community members to further their education in wildlife conservation and stewardship - some have been hired by the local lodges to lead safari tours and act as a local voice for wildlife to visitors and some have returned and now work as local rangers for the tenBoma initiative.
Decreasing the costs of living with wildlife
tenBoma works with communities to identify areas of high wildlife conflict. We work to build a layered approach to wildlife conflict, applying multiple mitigation strategies from living walls to beehive fences in order to reduce overall wildlife conflict in the communities we are engaging with.
Increasing livelihoods that are not related to wildlife
• Alternative livelihood projects, such as bee-fencing and cattle management.
• tenBoma aims to increase communities security (against organized criminal networks).
• Empowering women - through both engagement, education, leadership, and income driving projects.
• Through the Female Engagement Teams, tenBoma works with the women's groups to develop income generating activities (IGA's). These IGAs are designed and developed by the women with the support of a tenBoma Business Analyst, with the end goal being that profits generated are driven back into the community to improve the lives and livelihoods of women and girls, through education, reducing conflict, and empowerment.
Build/and or support sense of community ownership or stewardshipFurther detail
tenBoma works in various ways to build community trust and engagment. We work directly with Community Rangers, building their capacity by providing resources and training.
We perform Village Stability Operations (VSO's). These allow tenBoma community officers to engage with the individual communities to better understand the landscape, conflict, and current situations on the ground.
Lastly, we work with several Female Engagement Teams (FET's). The tenBoma FET is modelled on the Female Engagement Teams employed during the Iraq War in early 2006 and later in Afghanistan, and other locations. Goals of FETs in counter-insurgency operations are centered around influencing local communities in insurgent-held areas through gender lens-based training, education, outreach and socio-economic empowerment - and to build relationships of trust and partnership to increase threat-related reporting in key areas. The tenBoma FET model takes a similar approach to achieve similar goals for the female segments of communities in wildlife conflict and crime affected areas.
Has the initiative made a difference?
Poaching is decreasing.
• The Kenyan Wildlife Service, in cooperation with IFAW, reduced poaching incidents to zero in targeted areas that were formerly poaching hotspots. The program helped to facilitate an overall reduction in poaching in the Tsavo Conservation Area by 43% since 2015 and by 84% since 2014. According to a 2017 MIKE report released by CITES, the proportion of illegally killed elephants in East Africa has dropped from 42% to 30%.
• Three major operations have already been executed, uncovering new poaching networks and leading to investigations and arrests. tenBoma has exposed high value nodes and connections within the poaching and wildlife trafficking network. To date, many poachers and traffickers have been arrested by the Kenyan Wildlife Service as a direct result of tenBoma provided support.
• High level US and African military leaders are embracing anti-poaching efforts as part of their counter terrorism mission. In June 2016 for the first time in history, and with support from the IFAW tenBoma team, defense leaders met in classified sessions to review progress and discuss next steps in the accelerating effort to “find, fix, and finish” wildlife trade networks.
• tenBoma has been endorsed by INTERPOL at global CITES meeting in Johannesburg.
• More than 70 intelligence and investigation officers in Kenya have been trained and equipped.
• The initiative is expanding across the border to include other NGO, conservancy and law enforcement partners, including Big Life Foundation, Tsavo Trust, PAMS Foundation and SORALO: Southern Rift Association of Land Owners.
What works and why
• Establishing long-term mentorship ensures uptake of new technology.
• Leveraging expertise from across sectors is essential and local communities are integral in developing sustainable solutions.
• Assigning specific roles to individuals ensures accountability and continuity in expertise, and increases perceived ownership of a task.
• Scalable solutions can be implemented via cross-sector and a bottom-up approach.
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
Devolved decision-making power so local communities have a voice in creating or co-creating solutions (as part of the initiative)
Transparent and accountable distribution of benefits to local communities
- Multi-stakeholder engagement across the scope of wildlife crime is key. tenBoma has engaged with stakeholders at all levels. This engagement is critical (hence enabler). However, if the partnership creates friction, it can inhibit the growth of the initiative.
- tenBoma had a bottom up approach and as a result created strong, on-going relationships with communities, which has proven critical for its success. Local communities are integral in identifying key indicators of wildlife crime. Those on the ground are often closest to the physical locations where criminal networks operate and building relationships of trust with these communities is critical.
- Bringing communities into the conversation of income generating and wildlife conflict mitigation strategies is crucial for developing sustainable, long-term solutions. tenBoma's FET's and VSO's do just that by bringing the communities to the front of the solutions conversation.
- By bringing communities to the front of the solutions conversation, they also directly see the benefits of the mitigation strategies that are implemented.
What doesn’t work and why
Government and oversight changes can drastically affect the initiative's sustainability. It is crucial to keep a careful watch on these developments.
Factors that limited or hindered success
Lack of supportive national policy/legislation for devolved governance of natural resources
Organisers, donors and partners
In Kenya: in close partnership with Kenya Wildlife Service.
We communicate intelligence with other NGOs (Big Life Foundation, Tsavo Trust, PAMS Foundation), conservancy (SORALO: Southern Rift Association of Land Owners), law enforcement partners including police and state rangers, and Interpol.
For further information contact Jen Prelack (email@example.com).