3rd Quarter 2009 Newsletter: September 2009
FCF Ranger Killed in Action: 8 September 2009
Patrol members of FCF’s mobile unit, the “Faru” team, began an early morning foot patrol with Wildlife Division game wardens on 8 September 2009 in Tanzania’s Moyowosi Game Reserve. In due course the patrol discovered a meat drying rack, thought to be approximately one week old. Given the locality it was thought that the rack had been used for drying hippo meat. Shortly afterwards, the patrol came across very fresh signs of poachers and tracks on a foot path, which they decided to pursue. The team was on high alert and followed the path into some long grass where they encountered the poachers they had been tracking.
The poachers scattered and had the upper hand as they had spotted or heard the patrol first; it was thought that four poachers were in the group. The patrol split up to give chase and quickly apprehended two poachers. In the confusion three rounds were shot off by an SMG weapon; as it turned out the shots were from a poacher’s firearm and one of the rounds connected with FCF Ranger, Bahati Elia. His team members quickly did what they could to staunch the blood flow and loaded Bahati into the vehicle to rush him to medical assistance in the town of Kibondo, a three and a half hour drive from the Reserve.
At approximately 12.30 on 8 September 2009 en route to medical assistance, Bahati Elia passed away due to blood loss from injuries sustained while on duty.
Bahati was born on 5 June 1976. He started with FCF in March of 2008 after successfully completing a selection course conducted in the Lake Natron area. He performed his duties admirably and this was recognized when he was placed in the FCF mobile unit, where he continued to impress.
Bahati is survived by his wife, Restituta Kweka, and three young children, Sylvia (9), Elia (5) and Prisca (2).
There is an active investigation into the matter and we are hopeful that a swift and just conclusion will be reached; the GRAA and its’ readers will be updated accordingly.
Any assistance for his family can be directed through Keith Roberts (FCF General Manager) or Mike Beckner (FCF Anti-poaching Coordinator).
Village Community Banks (VICOBAs)
FCF Community Development has started an exciting new program to establish Village Community Banks (VICOBAs) in 12 communities near to the Moyowosi and Kizigo/Muhesi Game Reserves. VICOBAs are savings and microfinance groups which target low income community members to encourage saving and provide access to micro-loans for small enterprises development.
In early August, FCF conducted a two week training of trainers course to teach representatives from communities to become trainers and facilitators of VICOBA. The facilitators have now returned to their respective villages and, with support from FCF, they are each establishing two VICOBA in their home villages.
FCF is keen to expand this program as it has proven to be a highly successful tool for empowerment and poverty alleviation, as well as a forum for conservation through local environmental advocacy and eco-friendly enterprise initiatives. It is our hope that this program will expand with the support of donors.
Kilumbi and Mpapa Water Drilling
In early September, together with the generous support of the Atkinson family, FCF successfully drilled for water in Kilumbi and Mpapa villages on the western and eastern sides of Kizigo / Muhesi Game Reserve. The two boreholes are currently being equipped with hand pumps. This support will make a significant difference to the communities, who will now have a much needed safer and more reliable water supply.
Maswa Teachers Houses and Classroom Construction
FCF has completed the construction of two primary school teacher’s houses in communities near the Maswa Game Reserve. A classroom has also been started this year with hopes to complete the project next year. This program is a continuation of a five year plan with the District for developing education infrastructure.
FCF is currently preparing to implement a project to support 14 beekeeping groups in 6 districts with modern hives, equipment and beekeeping training. With appropriate technology and using best practices, the project will encourage income generation which is ecologically-friendly and goes hand in hand with conservation and natural resource management. The great amount of forests and woodlands provides optimum conditions for honey production.
The support will require a high level of commitment from the beekeepers as the hives and materials will be given out as loans to be repaid to support other beekeepers in the village. FCF support will use Langstroth technology for groups which demonstrate a good level of beekeeping experience. Less experienced groups will receive the Topbar / Commercial hive technology.
Through a generous donation from the Nelson Puett Foundation, FCF is supporting 12 secondary schools with much needed reference and text books. The program is being implemented in communities near the Maswa Game Reserve and Moyowosi ecosystem. Many of the secondary schools in these areas have very limited supplies and severe shortage of qualified teaching staff. The library support will give the students and teachers access to reference and text books which will make a significant improvement in academic performance.
As part of FCF’s approved 5-year monitoring program, 2009 has seen FCF partake in two more surveys. The dry season in Tanzania is the season when the majority of FCF’s surveys are conducted, and this year was no different.
Moyowosi Lion Survey
This year’s survey season began with a lion survey in the Moyowosi Game Reserve. Once again, wildlife consultant Dr Petri Viljoen made the trip up from South Africa to partake in FCF’s surveys, and led the team on the ground. The rest of the team comprised of a Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) representative, two Wildlife division Game Scouts, and another two FCF members.
The lion survey took place over a full month, with calling stations being set up each night, through the night, usually at two or three separate locations. Hours were long, but the rewards made it all worthwhile. Along with much lion activity, leopard and hyena also visited several stations. With the aid of photography Dr Petri Viljoen manages to record not only numbers of lion at each station, but also manages to document the age structure of each group. This type of survey is vital in such areas of Tanzania, where baseline data is often lacking.
Ugalla Elephant and Buffalo Total Count
After a full month in the Moyowosi, with vast quantities of this time spent in vehicles, the next survey saw us relocate to Ugalla Game Reserve where we participated in an aerial survey. Using our trusty yellow aircraft, the Maule, we flew north-south transects across the extent of the reserve in order to count the elephant and buffalo populations, breaking transect to photograph these populations when numbers in the herd were high.
After the high elephant poaching activity in the area last year we were pleasantly reassured by what we counted from the air. It was another successful survey, once again cementing our very beneficial partnership with TAWIRI.