In an exciting exercise that kicked off on Monday 24th June 2019, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and OIKOS East Africa joined hands to convene fourteen community rangers from Enduimet Wildlife Management Areas (EWMA) in Tanzania and fourteen community rangers from Olgulului-Ololarashi Group Ranch (OOGR) in Kenya. This was in a bid to reignite the effective cross-border patrols between the Kenya – Tanzania border which forms part of Africa’s richest landscape for wildlife population.
This critical route for migration has often been exploited by poachers and wildlife traffickers who camouflage as pastoralists to prey on wildlife, placing both wildlife and communities who live adjacent the area, at the risk of instability which stems from wildlife crime.
A six day exercise ensued, involving scrutinous joint patrols across wide spread and high-risk parts of Amboseli and West Kilimanjaro area investigating threats such as snares, indicators of suspicious human and wildlife activities which could be related to poaching, human-wildlife conflict and other wildlife and environmental crime while exchanging skill.
The success and challenges of this exercise were aired in a heart on sleeve discussion between the participants and governing stakeholders in a meeting that would see the conclusion of the exercise. Those in attendance included Kenya Wildlife Service's Senior Warden of Amboseli National Park Kenneth Ole Nashuu; Longido District Game Officer Lomayani Saiguran Lukumay, IFAW Former Senior Vice President Faye Cuevas, Operations Director Olgulului Olalarashi Group Ranch (OOGR) Patrick Papatiti, Enduimet Wildlife Management Areas (EWMA) Manager Peter Milanga, EWMA Operational Commander John Magembe, Deputy Director Operations OOGR Patrick Sayialel, participating rangers, and other supporting staff from IFAW, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), and EWMA.
The peer to peer exchange from the rangers indicated a clear cut need for further cross-border collaboration to leverage knowledge, complement each other in strength and encourage progressive information sharing. Although factors such as equipment, resources and rangers assigned per area set the two teams apart, a clear point of accord is that the two teams face many of the same challenges that can be resolved by listening and creating a connected network of security that watches and provides ample coverage over this habitat.
A noteworthy outcome from the exercise was the success of a group of rangers stopping a poaching attempt. The group of rangers came across a torch and a horn, indicators of poaching equipment. Pursuing the trail, they saw the criminal fleeing the scene. Although disheartened for not being able to arrest the criminal who fled on pursuit, a memorable and heartening word of advice from EWMA John Magembe, the Operations Commander, was not to lay their focus on arresting poachers, but to take delight in being able to stop poaching before it happens.
One common and major area of concern for the teams is that wildlife criminals are now using more advanced technology and equipment, and there lacks well-defined policies to govern the in-pursuit arrest of criminals upon crossing the border.
For the governing stakeholders, the priority now is to take up these bold lessons and turn them into action.
In 2018, the European Union launched three cross-border projects funded under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) in Cross-Regional Wildlife Conservation Program for Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean. The aim of these projects is to increase effectiveness of wildlife protection in trans-frontier conservation areas and to improve the livelihoods of communities living in or adjacent to trans-frontier conservation areas.
Kenya –Tanzania cross-border is funded under one of the projects to support long-term sustainable ecosystem management in trans boundary conservation areas under the Cross-Regional Wildlife Conservation Programme in Eastern and Southern Africa.
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