It is a small organization, made of 24 villages, surrounding a 2500km2 a wildlife rich core area distributed in the districts of Mvomero, Morogoro and Bagamoyo. The villages have united to form a community based organization (CBO) called Wami-Mbiki Society, to manage and share the benefits they can accrue from Wildlife in and around their area. It was established as a pilot Wildlife Management area (WMA) in 1997, and it is also titled as Authorized Association (AA) according to the present wildlife conservation policy. WMS carries the slogan of Communities Participation in Natural Resource Management, and it is among more than 16, mostly aid and donor oriented and dependent WMA established as pilot projects to try to implement the wildlife conservation policy of Tanzania of 1998/2007, and perhaps the wildlife conservation act of 2009 which is not yet gazetted.
The core WMA of WMS was in the past an open area, where poaching and illegal logging and charcoal burns were common anthropogenic issues. The organization appears to become victorious in a number of areas. All the 24 villages of Wami – Mbiki society have been surveyed and have got good land use plan (LUP). Currently they are on the process of obtaining land use certificate. Following effective patrol cooperated with the villagers, the population of widlife has significantlly increased to over 20,000 (2009 census) from about 4500 in 1997. The Wami-Mbiki ecosystem has regained its natural beauty and attractive climate where a visitor can experience the thrilling taste of wild Africa. Tourism investiments in the area is at its final stages. WMS has supported different Development projects in villages including the rehabilitation and construction of about 20 classrooms, 1 dispensaries, 8 school teachers’ houses, village offices, school toilets and drilling of pump water hole and the digging of water pond. WMS has succeeded to develop its own management plan (GMP), business plan and constitution. There is developement of infrastructure and agreement with private investor for tourism development. It is gazetted and declared as an NGO.
Currently WMS has thrived to control most of its internal challenges. Its democratic enviroment is dumbfound. There are good system of free and fare elections which ensure fair representation of every village in the govenance system, well agreed systems of benefits sharing, trasparescy, responsiveness, and accountability. Many challenges facing the organisation have been and are still external, and mostly top down in nature.
The most threatened challenge was that of army demanded about 66% of the land in the core wildlife management area for their military works. The conflict persisted from 2002 untill when it was resolved by the Presdent of URT in 2005. This delayed the success of the projects and plans.
The problems with law enforcement system appears to be chronic. Most of the poachers that are arrested with evidences, and taken to the police with their evidences but they are released and given back the evidences including the guns arrested along with them. It is suprising to see a poacher with more than two court cases, having all evidences such as guns, a and vehicle set free continuing with poaching in the wildlife management area. The poacher named Kaburu Yamungu Moshi, who has more than three court cases and who was sent to the police with all evidences such as guns, bullets etc has been set free and he is contuinuing with poaching, this can be cited as a good example. That poacher appers to be strongly bonded with the police officers and many time threatens the Game Scouts,thats what corruption can do at best !
What frustrates more is that some poaching cases are directly linked to government officers. According to Wami-Mbiki Newsletter of June 2009, three poachers were arrested last year with a hundreds of kilograms of wild meat carried in a truck with no STJ 9587, which belongs to the office of Natural Resources Catchments Project in Morogoro. All accused declared that they were asked by Mvomero District Natural Resource Officer, Mr. Thadeus Macha, to go for poaching, in order to get bush meat which could be used as special food to welcome ‘Shughuli za mwenge wa Uhuru’ (the UHURU TOUCH ACTIVITIES) that were to take place in his office in June/July last year. The administration secretary of Mvomero Selemani Thabit, was also suspected to be among the poachers but he run away. According to the newsletter, few days before the poaching incidence, Mr. Macha had visited Wami-Mbiki office to request for Wild meat. The office told him he could never get the meat from Wami-Mbiki WMA because hunting is strictly prohibited in their area. Macha was held accountable, but since June up to date he is still free, due to what police says “Investigation is still going on”. Until when????
Encroachment by settlers and others. Pastoralism is a common and important economic activity in the utilization zone surrounding Wami-Mbiki Core Area. However, within the past two years pastoralists have increasingly been encroaching the Core Area causing severe overgrazing in some areas. The encroaching pastoralists are normally not residential herders from the member villages but of the nomadic tribe of Mang’ati and some Maasai. The population of livestock in the WMA has recently approached 2,425. It has been observed that in the severely affected areas wildlife is rarely seen. There are 4 implications concerned with Pastoralism in the core area. Firstly, livestock grazing causes direct competition with larger antelopes for food and water resources and secondly, it increases the possibility of poaching as the Mang’ati are known to practise hunting. Thirdly, the disturbance from the Mang’ati and livestock causes wildlife to flee from the area where they are residing and lastly, it increases the chance of human – animal encounters with a possible fatal outcome. The problems concerned with the Mang’ati has grown to such an extent that the Game Scouts (GS) has been physically attacked on two occasions – in January and February respectively. Fortunately, the incident did not result in a fatal outcome, but 2 of the GS were severely injured and needed lengthy medical attention. The local government and Wildlife Division (WD) have been notified on the problem at the beginning of February, but for unknown reasons nothing has materialized so far. WMS is in need of the support of the government in initiating a military or police operation in removing the illegal pastoralists. The situation is simply such that it may be a matter of time before the next attack incident takes place and perhaps ‘lady luck’ will not be smiling upon the GS this time.
Cooperation between District Natural Resources of Morogoro is very good and transparent but the organisation is greatly concerned about it questionable coordination with Wildlife Division (WD), a department responsible for Wildlife management under WMA policies in the ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. It has on several occasions requested support directly from WD and through the district but without any response on almost all occasions. This can be linked with the implications surrounding WD regarding legislation as they are dependent on the new Wildlife Act hence the WMA regulations to take effect. These implications create problems for WMS and definitely most Community Based Wildlife Management (CBWM) organisations, since any WMA is highly dependent on this legislation to make decisions on financial issues to move forward.
The problems with law enforcement and top administrators are frustrating among most civil societies in Tanzania. However the police and judicial system are basic organs designated to ensure every on in the society get his/her right. Contrary to this, the wrong doers like poachers appear to undermine the rights of majority like WMS by taking the advantages of having corrupt law enforcement systems. It is then necessary for CSOs and YETs (and NGOs like WWF) to work in coalitions to ensure that there is transparent, responsive and accountable low enforcement system in the country.