Tanzania has the second largest African elephant population, with the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem being home to the largest elephant population in Northern Tanzania. Currently, the elephant population of Tarangire is over 4,000 individuals, a dramatic increase from the 2,500 individuals counted in 2009. As a result of anti-poaching initiatives, this population, particularly in the northern area, has been increasing at a rate of 6% per year. While this is an incredible achievement for a vulnerable species, elephants still face life-threatening issues.
Despite the increasing population, elephants in the northern region of Tarangire National Park are confined to 695km2 during the dry season. However, during the wet season, that area expands to 870km2 as those populations move into Randilen and Manyara Ranch Wildlife Management Areas (WMA). One of the biggest catalysts for increasing elephant populations in the north is preserving those key dispersal areas that provide additional food, habitat, and a peaceful coexistence with people. The northern area of Tarangire National Park also has the highest rate of tourism compared to other parts, making this an ideal area for successful nature-based enterprise investments.
Randilen’s role in elephant protection is critical in providing 312km2 of safe wilderness for elephants. They do this by helping farmers protect their crops with a Crop Protection Toolkit, which has reduced crop destruction by elephants on the community farmer by as much as 90%; enabling these farmers to save valuable income which they are reinvesting in their families and communities. With far less elephant damage to their farms, farmers are now more willing to provide the WMA protection rangers with key intelligence on any illegal activity taking place in the WMA or surrounding villages. Anti-poaching has been reduced to zero, crop income has increased dramatically, and elephant populations are continuing to grow.
The crop protection toolkit provided to communities is a series of fours tools; a strong Flashlight, bullhorn, chili cracker, and a roman candle. When used together, the toolkit has been shown to have 100% effectiveness in preventing crop damage by elephants, making it an essential part of elephant protection in Randilen. Each year, Randilen trains community members how best to use the toolkit. However, purchasing new kits each year is a mounting financial burden. While Randilen is working towards financial sustainability and independence of operating costs, there is a current need for financial assistance.