EAST AFRICAN PROJECTS
About the Region
To the south of Ruaha, one of Tanzania’s most stunning national parks, lies an undiscovered ecological gem named Usangu, after the Sangu tribe who historically inhabit the surrounding area. In 2006, Usangu Game Reserve was annexed into the Ruaha National Park due to its value as a wildlife hotspot and as a source of water that feeds the Great Ruaha River, the lifeblood of the national park. Human development and subsequent changes in water levels have affected the flow of the Great Ruaha River, impacting the wildlife and ecosystems
along the river’s 450 kilometre course. Elephants that dig for water in the dry sand riverbeds cannot always reach the water table during the dry season, causing them to migrate beyond the bounds of the park, resulting in increased human wildlife conflict. Local and national communities are impacted as the Mtera Dam hydroelectric plant faces a water shortage and thus reduced electricity for economic development in Tanzania.
The area is at a critical point where conservation efforts are essential to the survival of these immense wilderness areas. TAWIRI’s wildlife audit and the implementation of conservation themed tourism is the first step to understanding what is needed to protect the area and its inhabitants.
Greater protection of the wetlands and forests of Usangu are required so that future generations can marvel at and enjoy this incredible piece of the natural world. We invite you to be part of this conservation story, realising this region’s potential, as well as the opportunity to be some of the first intrepid visitors to explore an undiscovered wetland area.
The Mingati Wildlife Foundations' (MWF) core principle is to mobilise our efforts, resources, pivotal partnerships and experiences in conservation to heed the following call to action from our directors. The time to act is now.
“We are cognizant of the fundamental role that species play in maintaining our ecosystems on the continent of Africa, we respectfully call home. The intrinsic value inherent in each species, great and small. Collectively we are committed to protecting species from the tiniest elephant shrew to the most majestic free roaming African Lion."
Human-predator conflict is a primary driver of predator populations declining at a rapid rate on the Sub-Saharan African continent.
Within the geographic locations that we support from an MWF perspective, our aims are three fold when looking out our East African projects within the Mara Naboisho Conservancy in Kenya and the Ruaha National Park within Tanzania. Resolving and mitigating these conflicts is therefore our primary concern to carnivore conservation and human livelihoods.
1) To help community members and landowners understand and appreciate the role of predators in the ecosystem.
2) To ensure that key stakeholders in the conservation and research realm consistently utilise sound scientific information to mandate pivotal carnivore conservation strategies.
3) To support stable, healthy predator populations in in East Africa by providing scientific evidence for conservation action.
These two countries collectively have different methodologies and programmes to support Carnivore conservation models and both countries and their communities, are held with high regard and close to our foundations heartbeat and work ethic. Our goals for our conservation-centric partnerships within Kenya and Tanzania are to aid in predator tracking, predator vs community livestock research, conflict mitigation and community schooling and professional safari guides ongoing mentorship through education.
As the sage Masai proverb reminds us: “
“ Nobody can say he is settled anywhere forever: it is only the mountains which do not move from their places."
Why The Mara Naboisho Conservancy:
We support and believe in the conservancy model that combines conservation of the natural and cultural heritage, tourism, and the enhancement of livelihoods of the local communities.
Created in 2010, the Mara Naboisho Conservancy is a private 50,000 acre community pastoralist and wildlife conservation area located in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya.
The conservancy has the big cats in big numbers. In fact, with roughly 100 lions living in the vicinity, it has one of the highest lion densities in the world. The largest pride in the Greater Mara Region – comprising 22 lions – has made the conservancy its home. The conservancy boasts impressive herds of elephant, giraffe, zebra, and wildebeest.
The Mara Naboisho Conservancy also serves as a migration corridor for several hundred thousand animals between the Masai Mara National Reserve and the Loita Plains to the east. The existence of the Mara Naboisho Conservancy ensures that migratory cycles and patterns are not disturbed or forced to change.
We support and believe in the conservancy model that combines conservation of the natural and cultural heritage, tourism, and the enhancement of livelihoods of the local communities. There is the flexibility to experience something truly profound as we work through the MWF associates and to see and do things not possible in most Southern African reserves or National Parks. The passion and expertise of our directors facilitate this fulfilling “ boots on the ground “ experience.
The conservancy provides the opportunity to conserve the land and wildlife, whilst simultaneously creating sustainable wealth for the Maasai landowners. The Mara Naboisho Big Cat Project brings together community, researchers, NGOs and Tourism Partners in Naboisho Conservancy in an effort to help secure the future of the Big Cats namely Lion, Cheetah and Leopard.
Our approach is to uplift and and uphold meaningful carnivore conservation for future generations, whilst regaining the spirt of adventure so many people have long forgotten. Join us on a walking safari and discover ecosystems that are so often ignored. Spend the night in a transient fly camp and enjoy the simple pleasure of a meal cooked over a campfire. Head out on a night game drive in search of elusive nocturnal creatures that are rarely seen during the day. Or join the Mingati Wildlife Foundation & Mara Naboisho Lion Project as they track lions across the conservancy.
Why Ruaha National Park:
To the south of Ruaha, one of Tanzania’s most stunning national parks, lies an undiscovered ecological gem named Usangu, after the Sangu tribe who historically inhabit the surrounding area. In 2006, Usangu Game Reserve was annexed into the Ruaha National Park due to its value as a wildlife hotspot and as a source of water that feeds the Great Ruaha River, the lifeblood of the national park.
Human development and subsequent changes in water levels have affected the flow of the Great Ruaha River, impacting the wildlife and ecosystems along the river’s 450 kilometre course. Elephants that dig for water in the dry sand riverbeds cannot always reach the water table during the dry season, causing them to migrate beyond the bounds of the park, resulting in increased human wildlife conflict.
The area is at a critical point where conservation efforts are essential to the survival of these immense wilderness areas. TAWIRI’s wildlife audit and the implementation of conservation themed tourism is the first step to understanding what is needed to protect the area and its inhabitants. Greater protection of the wetlands and forests of Usangu are required so that future generations can marvel at and enjoy this incredible piece of the natural world.
The Mingati Wildlife Foundation in association with Asilia invite you to be part of this conservation story.
We have collectively realised this region’s potential, as well as the opportunity for you personally to become the first intrepid visitors to explore an undiscovered wetland area. The pivotal and deciding to support Ruaha National Park is that species are still being discovered as part of the wildlife audit.
Predators found in Usangu include lion, cheetah, leopard and wild dog, and the area is home to large herds of plains game including Masai giraffe, herds of Cape buffalo, plains zebra, eland, topi, roan and sable antelope, greater and lesser kudu, Defassa waterbuck, hartebeest and many more.
MWF has been granted exclusive access into wilderness regions of Usangu, the location of our expedition camp provides an authentic bush experience for intrepid conservation minded aficionados & safari-goers with a taste for adventure.
Not ordinarily open to the public, the Usangu Expedition Camp is used as a base for researchers who devote their days to mapping the territory and monitoring wildlife biodiversity in the area in conjunction with TAWIRI researchers. As MWF donors, you can become actively involved in this research and conservation process
Poaching is a persistent global problem with a profound effect on the East African region. The international demand for ivory and rhino horn is fuelling catastrophic declines in the elephant and rhino populations in Kenya, Tanzania and throughout Africa. As is the case for many countries in Africa.
Poaching in Africa has become rampant and poses a serious threat to the ecological stability of the continent, and to security and development.
According to National Geographic, “Some 30,000 African elephants are slaughtered every year, more than 100,000 between 2010 and 2012, and the pace of killing is not slowing.”1
Currently illegal wildlife trafficking is worth an estimated $19billion a year, making it the “fourth most lucrative illicit activity in the world after drug trade, counterfeiting, and human trafficking.”4 The increase in poaching for African elephants and rhinos is consistent with the increased value of ivory in the black market and the increased outflows of illegal ivory from Africa headed to Asia.
In addition to a mosaic of other wildlife, deforestation and the sale of endemic hardwood tree species, illegal fauna and flora trading are concentrated not only in national parks, but scattered throughout the East African countries. This includes officially protected areas, private ranches, county council territories, and both communal and private lands.
Poaching is a diverse, robust and multifaceted network that is becoming exceedingly challenging to extinguish. In order to fully combat poaching, it is vital to understand the various types of poaching, the mind-set and the people behind it. Poaching is defined as the illegal harvesting of wild plants and animals in contravention of local and international laws. Essentially there are two types of Poachers, subsistence Poachers targeting small game with little or no technological assistance, and Commercial or Syndicated Poachers who operate in organized groups utilizing advanced technology and focusing on rare animals, such as Lion, Elephant and Rhino.
Today, however, the continent is witnessing the re-emergence of widespread wildlife poaching and trafficking and faces new challenges to wildlife security (CITES, IUCN, and TRAFFIC, 2013; Adetunji, 2008). The demand for wildlife products—in particular lion bones, pangolin scales, ivory and rhino horn—has led to a resurgence of elephant and rhino poaching. In addition, there has also been a shift in the areas targeted by poachers and the weapons used, with snaring and poisoning of animals used in place of firearms, especially in areas that hitherto never experienced poaching. The methods, trade routes and concealment techniques used by poachers to traffic wildlife products and engage in the illegal wildlife trade have also evolved. Evidence suggests that if poaching persists at this level, specific local African elephant populations could disappear in the next decade (AWF, 2014).
Weak governance and corruption have exacerbated the poaching crisis. Endemic poverty has helped organized criminal elements recruit, bribe, and threaten locals, under paid police, military personnel, and wildlife rangers to participate in wildlife crime. This crisis, if left unchecked, will have a profound effect on regional biodiversity and the economy. African elephants and rhinos play a critical role in maintaining the biodiversity of savannah and forest ecosystems. In addition, they attract tourism that brings in foreign dollars and bolsters economies.
The surge in the killing of elephants and other endangered species in East Africa threatens not only wildlife populations, but economic development and the livelihoods of millions of people who depend on tourism for a living.
Anti-Poaching is defined as the approach, implementation and execution of controlling and elimination of poaching activities. The primary objective of the Anti-Poaching units we support is not the capture of poachers, but rather the prevention of poaching altogether.
The goals of the Anti-Poaching Support Project are outlined as follows :
Identifying local villagers who have a comprehensive knowledge of the region, wildlife and ecology thereby creating employment and opportunity for self betterment
Skills development of existing Anti-Poaching Units through targeted training operations, including tracking, anti-tracking, wilderness first aid, rifle handling etc
Equipping APU’s with the basic equipment and necessities to survive extended periods in the harsh East African conditions in the filed – this includes Boots, Day Packs, Sun Hats, Water Bottles, Sleeping Bags, suitable camouflage uniforms, webbing, hand held radios, and first aid kits
1.Brian Christy, “How Killing Elephants Finances Terror in Africa,”National Geographic,
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/tracking-ivory/article.html (Accessed on 11/01/2016).
2. Adetunji Jo (2008). China Given Green Light to Buy African Ivory Stockpile The Guardian, 15 July.
CITES (2013). New Figures Reveal Poaching For The Illegal Ivory Trade Could Wipe Out A Fifth Of Africa’s Elephants Over Next Decade. Available From: http://www.cites.org/eng/news/pr/2013/20131202_elephant-figures.php
Our Community upliftment programmes are essentially the glue that binds all of our projects together. Without buy-in from local communities we would never be able to mitigate human-wildlife conflict successfully or find suitable members for the Anti-Poaching units. The socio-economic divide across the African continent is massive and sadly the communities surrounding wildlife areas are subjected to harsh living conditions, abject poverty and little to no formal education.
Human Wildlife conflict is challenging matter to address because of underlying cultural, political and economic aspects. Efforts to address the obvious problems without considering the bigger picture and taking into account the socio-political and socio-economic conflicts often results in a temporary fix or worse exacerbates pre-existing conflict situations. Problem animal Control is a controversial topic world wide and there have been raging debates regarding the removal of problem species without considering the effect this may have on the greater eco-system of the region.
As a result of the establishment of conservancies, in East Africa the Maasai communities have benefited from economic upliftment, while wildlife numbers have increased as land that was once over grazed by cattle is now being rehabilitated as wilderness.
Over a ten year year period Martin’s work on the ground in the Mara and the greater Serengeti eco-systems have proved vital to provide the people living in these communities with targeted and measurable support by means of creating sustainable ecologically sound farming practices and mitigating crop and livestock loss, viable entrepreneurial skills to provide financial relief and educational programs. We now move to a much stronger pivotal base through the donations and support of the MWF community projects within the East African scope of work.
The Masai Mara Conservancies:
As a result of the establishment of interlinked conservancies, the Maasai communities have benefited from economic upliftment, while wildlife numbers have increased as land that was once over grazed by cattle is now being rehabilitated as wilderness.
It is vital to provide the people living in these communities with targeted and measurable support by means of creating sustainable ecologically sound farming practices and mitigating crop and livestock loss, viable entrepreneurial skills to provide financial relief and educational programs
These conservancies are on private land owned by Maasai families that have been set aside for wildlife conservation and tourism. The landowners lease their land to safari companies and lodges, who then pay monthly fees which are reinvested into the community, funding education, water and medical developmental initiatives. In return the Maasai are still allowed to graze their cattle on the land, but only under strictly controlled conditions.
The goals of the Community upliftment programmes are outlined as follows :
Building of Bee Boxes to be placed on crop boundaries – bees act as a deterrent for crop raiding Elephants. Honey produced by the bees can also be utilised by the women in the community to sell to local lodges, produce soaps and a range of environmentally friendly body products. Bee Boxes can be ordered by international and domestic donors for the Bee Box project and produced by teenagers in the community creating more than one revenue stream for a the greater community
Mitigation of Human-Wildlife Conflict through placing livestock guardian dogs, and informing community elders when collared predators are moving through their region
Employing men and woman from the community for Anti-Poaching Units, not only does this create long term employment the members