Quantifying the ecological success of a community-based wildlife conservation area in Tanzania

In Tanzania, community-based natural resource management of wildlife occurs through the creation of Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). WMAs consist of multiple villages designating land for wildlife conservation, and sharing a portion of subsequent tourism revenues. Nineteen WMAs are currently operating, encompassing 7% of Tanzania’s land area, with 19 more WMAs planned. The ecological success or failure of WMAs for wildlife conservation has yet to be quantified. We defined ecological success in this case as significantly greater densities of wildlife and significantly lower densities of livestock in the WMA relative to the control site, after the WMA was established. We used 4 years of distance sampling surveys conducted 6 times per year for wild and domestic ungulates to quantify wildlife and livestock densities before and after the establishment and implementation of management efforts at Randilen WMA, relative to a control site on adjacent land of similar vegetation and habitat types. We documented similarity between the sites before WMA establishment, when both sites were managed by the same authority. After WMA establishment, we documented significantly higher densities of resident wildlife (giraffes and dik-diks) and lower densities of cattle in the WMA, relative to the control site, indicating short-term ecological success. Continued monitoring is necessary to determine longer-term effects, and to evaluate management decisions.

Last Updated
January 27, 2021
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