Category Archives: Conservation Enterprise and Development

A New USAID-funded Community-based Conservation Initiative Launches in Northern Tanzania

By the African People & Wildlife Fund

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.

(Photo courtesy of APW/Laly Lichtenfeld)

(Photo courtesy of APW/Laly Lichtenfeld)

“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.

(Photo courtesy of APW/Felipe Rodriguez)

(Photo courtesy of APW/Felipe Rodriguez)

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.

(Photo courtesy of APW/Felipe Rodriguez)

(Photo courtesy of APW/Felipe Rodriguez)

“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.”

10 Years of People & Wildlife [VIDEO]

Full article published on National Geographic Cat Watch

Just ten years ago, two young explorers set up camp by a small acacia at the top of a hill given to them by the rural Tanzanian community of Loibor Siret. That camp was to eventually become a permanent base for the African People & Wildlife Fund’s conservation programs focusing on the lions of the Maasai Steppe – a program that now protects thousands of head of livestock and 100 lions every year with over 500 Living Walls. With one side of the hill looking to the community rangelands and the other side looking to the eastern edge of Tarangire National Park, a flagship haven for African biodiversity, the location was a perfect metaphor for the work they set out to do.

Those two explorers were Dr. Laly Lichtenfeld and Charles Trout, now directors of the African People & Wildlife Fund (APW). What started as a tent on top of a land rover has grown into an operation that spans 19 communities across 30 000 km2 of Northern Tanzanian rangelands. The small two-man tent has been replaced by the Noloholo Environmental Center, a one-of-a-kind emblem combining traditional architecture and sustainable design that stands on top of the hill where it all started and marks the organization’s headquarters in Tanzania. The newly released 2014 Annual Report highlights the milestones of the last ten years, and as we celebrate a decade of success on the Steppe we invite you to share in celebrating Big Cats and Communities in Northern Tanzania.

This video highlights the journey we have taken over these past 10 years, and the strong relationships that have stemmed from it:

Noloholo Environmental Micro-grants Empowering Women for Big Cat Conservation

By Anna Flam

 

“I don’t have any children.”

Gathered women, waiting for a meeting to start, were quizzing Alison Nicholls, a visiting artist at APW’s Noloholo Environmental Center. Inquiries about children are common worldwide. However, to this group of Maasai and Swahili women, her answer was unthinkable.

“Why not?”

“My husband and I chose not to have children.”

Rushed chatter in Kiswahili and Kimaasai immediately prompted several offers.

“You can have one of my children.”

“How about a girl? Only this high,” indicating just over knee height.

Alison fended off the well-intentioned offers. Commenting that she only had one plane ticket back to the U.S. was her escape from an unsought adoption.

Where we operate on Tanzania’s Maasai Steppe, choosing childlessness is unthinkable. According to multiple Maasai staff at APW, eight is the minimum number of children a woman must have to be considered respectable. “More are better,” says Joyce Ndakaru, APW’s Conservation Enterprise and Development Officer anda very unconventional Maasai woman.  “If you have five children, people will always ask: ‘why not more?’ You must have enough children to accommodate one or two deaths, and a few that do not have good personalities. Family planning is a bad word around here.”

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Tanzania’s population is growing rapidly and shows no signs of slowing. Current UN estimates rank Tanzania as the world’s 26thmost populated country. But by 2050, Tanzania is predicted to jump to 13th place. Escalating human demands place increased stress on already limited big cat habitat. More people need more space and more food, but lions and cheetahs also need lots of room to wander. On the Maasai Steppe, more humans usually mean more cattle or cultivation, pushing out native lion prey and reducing grasslands. With fewer wildebeest and zebra to eat, lions are more liable to prey upon livestock, triggering retaliatory killings. Our Living Wall project is one initiative aimed at preventing such conflict. However, we also tackle conservation issues more broadly and in less obvious ways, for example by addressing women’s position in society.

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The ladies chatting with Alison were waiting for a micro-grant award ceremony to start. So far this year, APW has provided start-up funds to 10 women’s groups as part of our environmentally friendly business initiative. To some, supporting women’s businesses might seem like an indirect step for women’s rights and wildlife conservation. Of course, encouraging sustainable livelihoods is an important part of what we hope to achieve with these grants. But by giving local women something they desire — additional income — we can also subtly change their position in society. Managing a beekeeping business, for example, gives many local women their first opportunity to have something completely their own, completely apart from male family members.

 

Joyce, our indefatigable Conservation Enterprise and Development Officer, is a fantastic example of how hard a Maasai woman must work to escape her society’s female norms. For several years she was her family’s black sheep. Joyce defied her parents to obtain a secondary education and thereby avoided marriage at 15 (a common age for Maasai girls to marry). Years later, she reconciled with her family. Marrying a Maasai man — “of my own choice,” she is quick to point out — undoubtedly helped. Today, she is proud of her two – yes, only two – children.

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Now, Joyce routinely shocks young Maasai men as she works. Watching her switch among Swahili, Maasai, and English while directing emergent women’s groups, they comment, “How can a Maasai woman know so much?” Hopefully, through projects like the recently funded beekeeping businesses, young women choosing their own path will be less of a shock to the community in the future.

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Along with supporting female empowerment and local economic development, these beekeeping businesses also promote habitat retention – the bottom line for big cat survival outside of protected areas. Tanzania’s National Beekeeping Policy of 1998 prevents people from cutting down trees around hives. So, each new beekeeping venture helps keep important lion, cheetah and leopard habitat open.

 

A win for women and wildlife – well, that’s exactly what we are hoping for.