Today on World Wildlife Conservation Day, we want to share with you some highlights of our recent journey in piloting a new wildlife conservation tool, the Conservation Contract.
Our Community Camera Trapping programme is currently operating in 12 villages in the Ruaha Landscape in Tanzania and has helped establish a direct link between presence of wildlife on village land and community benefits. This has helped those living with carnivores to receive tangible benefits and increase their tolerance towards wildlife.
As attitudes and tolerance have increased, we are now looking to implement programmes that aim to affect direct conservation actions. We felt that it was time to develop a system which included penalties for behaviours such as poisoning large carnivores as well as bonuses for positive behaviours, such as maintaining wire bomas and reinforcing traditional bomas.
Examples of rewards and penalties
A collared lion spending a night in village land will net the village 11 USD while a snare while the detection of an illegal snare will subtract the same amount.
Our Conservation Contract is inspired by our friends at Niassa Carnivore Project and provides incentives and disincentives for certain behaviours. Presence of wildlife (through the Community Camera Traps) and quality of livestock enclosures are rewarded, whereas the presence of snares and carnivore mortalities are penalised. All conditions have been agreed upon with the village leadership and we hope will encourage the community to conserve and protect their wildlife.
After numerous community meetings, the first "Conservation Contract" was signed on 19 August 2021 with the village of Malinzanga for an initial period of 3 months, which was recently extended to 6 months.
The three month pilot project was recently evaluated to see where it was working well, and where it needed to be adjusted according to feedback from stakeholders. The first period ended up with a pay-out that was very close to the base fund the village started with because the penalties in this period were about the same size as the additional bonuses.
The village clearly stated that they wish to continue with the pilot as the exercise helps them to measure their success in conservation issues. The chairman even stated that even without a payout they would want to continue in order to inform them how successful they are in conservation issues. We are very impressed by the understanding and support of the village leaders and agreed to hold a public event on Friday December 3rd where we will share the successes and challenges as well as sign the conservation contract extension.
Public event a great success
We held a public celebration to mark the completion of the three month pilot project. Community sensitisation and education is an important part of this project as each community member can directly contribute to the success of the conservation contract. The event was opened by the guest of honour, the Idodi ward counsellor, welcoming everyone present. The village chairman, agricultural officer, head teacher, and other village leaders took turns encouraging the community to continue to conserve wildlife.
We were thrilled to have the local drama group, Wazawa, to help educate and entertain the community of Malinzanga. The drama group has worked closely with Lion Landscapes before and tailor their dramas and comedy to incorporate key conservation messages.
Below is a short clip showing the ‘WAZAWA GROUP ‘ making some dramas and educating the Malinzanga villagers about the conservation contract and the projects of Lion landscapes. The language spoken is Swahili so although you may not understand it you can clearly see it is engaging the crowd.
We look forward to the results of the next pilot period, lessons learned and applied and will keep you updated on the progress of this project!
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