Wildlife conservation in Africa is complex. To get it right, conservationists must work with a diverse range of partners supporting a vast number of initiatives – livestock keeping, farming, economic development, land use, health, and education to name just a few.
More than a decade ago, the African People & Wildlife Fund (APW) understood this basic principle, which is the essence of its grassroots community-based natural resource management program in Northern Tanzania. This program implements the organization’s four-step integrated process for long-term conservation success and has led to several strong partnerships.
One of those collaborative ventures, the Northern Tanzania Rangelands Initiative (NTRI), has gained serious momentum in recent months. Now with a coalition of nine organizations that is led by The Nature Conservancy, NTRI recently launched a five-year USAID-funded project called Endangered Ecosystems of Northern Tanzania.
“Our local sister organization, Tanzania People & Wildlife, is a founding member of NTRI. We have long respected the need for such robust partnerships,” explained Dr. Laly Lichtenfeld, APW’s executive director. “It is the only way to have a far-reaching positive impact to fully benefit both people and wildlife.”
Besides The Nature Conservancy and Tanzania People & Wildlife, the coalition includes the Wildlife Conservation Society, Honeyguide, Carbon Tanzania, the Ujamaa Community Resource Trust, Dorobo Fund, Maliasili Initiatives, Oikos Institute, and Pathfinder International.
Such a powerhouse team did not come together overnight. The conversations began several years ago, and it took considerable patience and perseverance for NTRI to stand as a united coalition.
Today, with the support of USAID, NTRI has multiple integrated goals for its first full-scale project, including strengthening wildlife management and anti-poaching; securing land for conservation and sustainable natural resource use; increasing the capacity of communities and their leaders in governance; diversifying livelihoods through conservation-based business enterprises; boosting communities’ resiliency to climate change; and providing greater health access, specifically for women and youth.
The broad-sweeping project will allow APW and its sister organization, Tanzania People & Wildlife, to expand their long-standing human-wildlife conflict prevention programs and further develop more recent ventures, such as those in rangeland management, enterprise development, and honey production.
“This is only the beginning for NTRI,” said Dr. Lichtenfeld. “We have a long road ahead before we truly see communities realize sustainable management over their resources. But with such strong partnerships and collective support, we will help to ensure a future where people and wildlife can both thrive.”