The role of local communities in wildlife management: a case study of the Serengeti regional conservation project, Tanzania

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Sokoine University of Agriculture


The study was conducted in the western corridor of the Serengeti National Park between October 2001 and January 2002. Tire study area included villages bordering the Ikorongo-Grumeti Game Reserve, Ikoma Wildlife Management Area, and the Serengeti National Park. Specifically, the study was intended to assess the effectiveness of local communities in wildlife management; assess the relationship between the local community and wildlife authorities; and assess if there is any decline in poaching in the study villages. The study involved four villages of 14 villages under the SRCP where in each village, at least 5% of the households were sampled. Primary data were obtained from questionnaire survey, focus group discussions, check list and the researcher’s observations. The study revealed that both village natural resources committees (VNRCs) and village game scouts (VGS) were significantly effective in combating poaching than expected (%2 = 108.3, p<0.001 and %2 = 90.13, p<0.001, for VNRCs and VGS respectively). The relationship with wildlife authorities was said to be excellent by 29.2% of the respondents, 69.2% said there was good relations while 1.7% said it was poor. Furthermore, 98.3% of respondents said poaching has decreased since the introduction of community-based conservation by SRCP. Poaching was ranked as the most important threat to wildlife conservation, followed by lack of community participation in wildlife management, increasing livestock numbers, and agriculture. Other problems in the area included severe shortage of water for livestock during the dry season was pointed out by 83.3% of the respondents while 50% stated the shortage of grazing area. Crop damage was also a problem and the most problem animals mentioned by respondents were bushpig (Potamochoerus porcus) (84.2%), vervet monkey (Chlorocebus aethiops) (77.5%), olive baboon (Papio anubis anubis) (55.0%), and the elephant (Loxodonta africana) (44.4%). On the other hand, communities received a total of 36 millions TAS (equivalent to 45.5 thousands USD) from 1998 to 2001 as a form of tangible benefits from the community wildlife hunting and 44 million TAS (equivalent to 48.1 thousands USD) from non-consumptive photographic safaris. The study concludes that active participatory approaches that are used by SRCP have contributed to the success of the project in winning support of local communities at the grass root level. Local communities arc treated with respect, as equal partners in conservation, not as targets of conservation or education projects. Decision making power is shared, and the role of the project staff is to act as catalysts and intermediaries. Based on the study, the following recommendations are given: -More support should be provided to the village game scouts. -There should be integration between crop and livestock production system. -Wildlife conservation education should be added in the primary school syllabus. -The use of non-lethal deterrents for crop protection against wildlife especially elephants should be researched in the area. -Villages should be assisted in exploring the potential investors especially on photographic tourism and tourist hunting.




Wildlife management, Serengeti, Tanzania, Local communities