'Mission Possible' For Tanzania’s Wildlife

Ultimately, the quicker we get tourism moving again, rangers paid on time, safari camps busy and fully staffed, the better the chance for the wildlife.

April 2020 • David Guthrie, Owner of Tent with a View

'Mission Possible' for Tanzania's Wildlife

The Western Corridor is a narrow finger of a national park, connecting the main bulk of the Serengeti to Lake Victoria. It is defined by the westward flow of two parallel rivers, the Mbalangeti and the Grumeti. Just outside this protected finger is a line of rural communities. They generally farm for a living and supplement their income by poaching bush meat when the great wildebeest migration enters the corridor. These are not the poachers decimating elephant and rhino populations, but their threat cannot be ignored. There is an established order of things; a certain give and take which the rangers and the communities understand and live by.

Covid-19 threatens to destroy the status quo around the park boundary. With no tourists in the parks, there is no work for local people in the hotels and camps. Equally, there is no revenue generated from park fees, to pay the rangers. To combat the obvious danger this situation creates, Frankfurt Zoological Society has created the “Mission Possible” scheme which aims to combine out-of-work lodge staff with rangers to patrol the parks and control the poaching. The true strength of the plan comes from the fact that key village folk become gamekeepers, making it much harder for other members of the community to poach. Such a plan can help mitigate the problems we face, but ultimately, the quicker we get tourism moving again, rangers paid on time, safari camps busy and fully staffed, the better the chance for the wildlife.