A note from Mike Beckner, FCF Anti-Poaching Coordinator:
“Of obvious concern is the ongoing elephant poaching problem. Our concessions have all been affected by this and it’s scary to think what is probably happening elsewhere. I have heard that Rungwa has had its share of elephant poaching this year and that the Selous has already been hit hard as well.
In Maswa and in the Moyowosi, livestock encroachment is already a big issue – what’s going to happen in September and October when it is properly dry? Lots to consider…
That said, as always, we are happy to discuss possible ways to combat poaching. If an idea or suggestion is tenable we will try and make it work. Your feedback from time spent on the ground is always valuable and much appreciated.”
Friedkin Conservation Fund (FCF) played a small but vital role behind the scenes for the release of the cheetahs discussed in the article linked below. At very short notice, FCF and others were asked to assist with transport of the cheetahs because the truck that had been offered never arrived. FCF and a truck was sent to Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) to move the cheetahs to Tarengeri National Park.
Read the full article by clicking on the following link to the ZSL Living Conservation website:
The months of November and December were very busy for the FCF teams in the field. A total of seven firearms were confiscated during this time period including:
two semi-automatic weapons from a village in the Uvinza Open Area;
four muzzle loaders from the Moyowosi and Ugalla Game Reserves; and,
one .458 used by a gang of elephant poachers operating in the Kizigo Game Reserve.
Other items that were confiscated during the months of November and December include:
41 hardwood timber planks;
1 bow and 30 poison arrows;
1211 head of livestock which were removed from the concessions; and,
12 elephant tusks.
A total of twenty-two arrests were made including thirteen meat poachers, five timber poachers and four illegal livestock herdsmen.
Elephant poaching continues at an alarming rate. In November, six carcasses and ten active camps were found in the northern Moyowosi Game Reserve by our microlight pilot on patrol. Shortly after those discoveries, six more carcasses were found in the middle of the Ugalla Game Reserve. FCF teams are following up and are hopeful they will receive positive feedback.
The dangers of anti-poaching were once again realized during December. An FCF ranger was struck in the forearm while fending off a blow from a machete directed at him by a poacher resisting arrest. The FCF ranger is to undergo surgery to repair nerve damage to his arm and will be off duty for several months. The entire FCF team wishes him a speedy recovery!
On 11 September 2010, the Friedkin Conservation Fund (“FCF”) Mobile Team,while working with Tanzania Wildlife Division (“Wildlife Division”), personnel encountered armed poachers in the Moyowosi Game Reserve. After an exchange of fire initiated by two suspects, FCF Ranger Mbayani Mollel and Wildlife Division Game Scout Kassam Mtambo were found to be injured. FCF Ranger Mollel was shot in the forearm and is expected to make a complete recovery. Wildlife Division Game Scout Mtambo was shot in the abdomen and sadly succumbed to his wounds on the afternoon of 12 September 2010. Both men received top-quality first aid attention and were evacuated to the Regional Hospital in Tabora by the Wildlife Division’s 206, where they were provided with emergency treatment.
The remainder of the team on the ground arrested one suspect and confiscated an AK-47. Acting on information, the FCF Mobile Team, Wildlife Division personnel and police units from the region have arrested an additional 4 suspects and have confiscated one additional firearm (also an AK-47) from nearby villages. The operation will continue for several more days.
We at FCF would like to extend our most sincere condolences to the family of Wildlife Division Game Scout Kassam Mtambo for their loss. Both the conservation and law enforcement communities will mourn his passing as he gave the ultimate sacrifice in the performance of his duties. May he rest in peace.
Moyowosi is located in the northwest part of the country, close to the border with Burundi. The habitat of these reserves varies from huge swamps to open flood plains, which adjoin large areas of Miombo forest. Game density in the Moyowosi is relatively high, with good populations of lion, leopard, buffalo, crocodile, topi and Lichtenstein hartebeest. Sitatunga are present in the Moyowosi Swamp, which is characterized by tall palm trees and islands formed by termite mounds. The swamp is an important wetland habitat for rare water birds including the wattled crane and the shoebill stork.
For more information on the Friedkin Conservation Fund, please visit your website.
The microlight 5H-SCI plane (the “Microlight”) arrived in Tanzania in July 2010 after a long delay in South Africa caused by port workers’ strikes. One Microlight pilot arrived back in Arusha after a very busy 2 months in Maswa GR. There has been a recent spike in elephant poaching and if it wasn’t for his efforts in the sky there is a good chance that ground patrols would have missed the poached elephant. All in all he identified 32 carcasses and this has led to an active investigation which we hope will yield results. Another Microlight pilot arrived shortly afterwards and the Microlight was assembled and has 25 hours of test flights to cover and then receive its Certificate of Airworthiness from the Tanzanian Civil Aviation Council.
By mid-August the Microlight will be bound for the Moyowosi Game Reserve and after a thorough survey of the area will hop across to Ugalla Game Reserve. Both of these areas, being close to the Burundian and DRC borders, are hard hit by heavily armed poachers. The presence of the Microlight will go a long way in identifying the poacher’s camps enabling the ground teams to ambush them and will act as an overall deterrent.
From our extensive experience of using microlights in Tanzania we are confident that the Microlight will have a noticeable effect on decreasing the poaching in western Tanzania.
A big thank you to Safari Club International for their financial support of this project!
Moyowosi Game Reserve, Makere North & South Forest Reserves and Uvinza Open Area
These protected areas are located in the northwest of the country, close to the border with Burundi. The habitat of these reserves varies from huge swamps to open flood plains, which adjoin large areas of Miombo forest. Game density in the Moyowosi is relatively high, with good populations of lion, leopard, buffalo, crocodile, topi and Lichtenstein hartebeest. Sitatunga are present in the Moyowosi Swamp, which is characterized by tall palm trees and islands formed by termite mounds. The swamp is an important wetland habitat for rare water birds including the wattled crane and the shoebill stork.
Traveling between the villages bordering these four protected areas can be a matter of days – even weeks – in the rainy season. The FCF Community Development Field Officer for this area does not let this deter him, traveling by bicycle if need be to reach the remotest of villages. FCF meets with Village Environmental Committees to discuss the importance of conservation. Through close communication and careful cooperation, FCF has implemented a series of successful conservation projects with the communities in this area. Examples of these are a village fish farming initiative in Kibondo, a women’s beekeeping cooperative in Kifura, natural spring reinforcement in Kasanda, and a secondary-school tree nursery to grow indigenous trees for reforestation in Makere.
Area-specific Project Replant Trees
Illegal charcoal production and poached timber are responsible for the deforestation of up to 1.7 million acres of Tanzania’s woodland every year. This destroys species diversity, degrades the soil and exacerbates poverty. FCF is working to replant tree seedlings to bring prosperity and fight soil degradation, erosion and loss of biodiversity. $50 will plant 50 seedlings.
The largest area FCF is responsible for, the combined area of the Moyowosi, Makere and Uvinza reserves is 3,023,000 acres. We have three rapid action teams and one village game scout team based here. Annually they, along with Government Game Scouts, arrest in the region of 1,000 poachers. Elephant poaching, illegal fishing, illegal entry of domestic livestock, timber poaching and bushmeat hunting are commonly encountered in these areas. One of FCF’s microlights is based in the area and has proven itself to be very effective in streamlining our anti-poaching efforts in a huge chunk of western Tanzania.
Area-specific Project: Shelter an Anti-poaching Team
The provision of adequate shelter for our rangers on the ground is a top priority when outfitting teams for the bush. $150 will pay for the purchase and shipping of one two-person tent and $450 will purchase and ship tents for a full anti-poaching unit.
The Moyowosi Game Reserve, Makere North & South Forest Reserves and Uvinza Open Area are part of a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance (the Malagarasi-Moyowosi Ramsar site). This is an important, vast and complex riverine floodplain wetland in northwest Tanzania, one of the largest and most important wetlands in East Africa. The basin has five main rivers: the Malagarasi, Moyowosi, Kigosi, Gombe, and Ugalla. The Moyowosi Game Reserve includes a permanent papyrus swamp, large peripheral floodplains that fluctuate widely on a yearly basis, and is surrounded by very extensive miombo woodlands and wooded grasslands including the Makere Forest Reserves and parts of Uvinza Open Area. The site is extremely important for large mammals, migratory and resident water birds, fish and plants. FCF propose regular sample surveys for large mammals and specific surveys for buffalo and other species in their program and are also working in collaboration with the Tanzania Mammal Atlas Project/WCS to conduct camera trapping surveys in the area.
Area-specific Project: Camera Trapping Survey
FCF and the Tanzania Mammal Atlas Project hope to conduct a number of camera trapping surveys in the Moyowosi swamps and surrounding areas to establish biodiversity inventories. The operational costs of each survey are approximately $6,000 per survey, and any contribution to these surveys would assist in continuing this program.