Forging a Collaborative Approach
16th and 17th February 2012 - WORKSHOP REPORT
The Tanzania-Kenya borderlands span 16 protected areas ranging from Serengeti-Mara to Tsavo-Mkomazi and support the largest bushed savanna elephant population in Africa. Herds range widely beyond parks, across community land and between the two countries. The challenge of conserving such migratory and vulnerable herds brought together in Arusha over sixty representatives of the two governments, communities, conservation organizations and researchers in Arusha to forge a collaborative approach. The workshop was organized by the African Conservation Centre in Kenya and the Wildlife Conservation Society in Tanzania, and funded by the Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation.
The Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute opened the workshop by strongly endorsing a collaborative approach to conserving the trans-border elephant population. The Tanzania Wildlife Division and Kenya Wildlife Service outlined their newly completed national elephant management plans. Both countries stressed the need to win space for the expanding elephant herds beyond parks by identifying and securing movement pathways, improving anti-poaching operations, reducing human-wildlife conflict, generating wildlife benefits to communities and supporting collaboration between governments and with the private sector.
The collaboration at the heart of the workshop was given a timely boost by passage of the East African Community Transboundary Ecosystems Management Act, signed into law on 29thJanuary, 2012. The act sets up a commission to oversee the conservation and sustainable development of important East African trans-border ecosystems.
An overview of the workshop stressed the global significance of the borderlands as a hotspot of biodiversity, a tourist Mecca, an area rich in pastoral cultures and the birthplace of humankind. The opening session was followed by a discussion on common goals for the workshop.
The workshop then compiled the first tentative map of the location and movements of elephant populations in the borderlands, based on population counts, radio-tracked animals, tracks and signs gathered by researchers and community scouts and on genetic analysis of dung samples. The map showed the widespread movements of elephants across the Tanzania-Kenya border, between parks, over community lands and across the rift valley. It was agreed that the map will be routinely updated and made freely available for research and conservation purposes. The workshop also reviewed the information needed to monitor, plan and conserve a viable, interconnected elephant population across the borderlands and set up a task force to recommend compatible monitoring methods and research tools.
The community discussions looked into how to strengthen the capacity of communities to protect elephants, avert and reduce human-wildlife conflict and raise benefits from the use of wildlife. Top priority was given to mobilizing communities in the key elephant pathways, setting up security networks, raising awareness, encouraging partnerships, sharing information, exchanging knowhow and developing integrated work plans. The South Rift Association of Landowners (SORALO) was elected to organize cross-border meetings as soon as possible. The communities, with the assistance of the government wildlife agencies and conservation organizations, will prepare conservation plans and identify the support they need to implement them.
The government agencies looked at their role in oversight and implementation of elephant conservation plans in the borderlands. They agreed that the current cross-border security meetings should be widened to a task force looking at all aspects of borderlands conservation, in line with the commission to be set up under the East African Community Transboundary Ecosystems Management Act. The task force will encourage public-private partnerships, community initiatives, joint patrols and monitoring and other collaborative efforts. It will include representatives from Tanzania National Parks, Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania Wildlife Division, Lusaka Agreement Taskforce, Kenya Wildlife Service, NGOs, researchers, communities, and the private sector.
The workshop assigned specific tasks and identified possible start-up funds to get the cross-border community exchanges underway. The African Conservation Centre in Kenya and Wildlife Conservation Society in Tanzania were charged with coordinating activities.
The workshop concluded that the collaboration and coordination envisaged by the participants lays a foundation not only for conserving the borderlands elephant populations, and wide-ranging species more generally, but also for sustaining the diversity and integrity of ecosystems and landscapes.
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