The community in Randilen are committed to protect the wildlife and habitat inside its borders, and beyond in village lands encompassing over 1500 sq km. As the wildlife is so well-protected within the Randilen WMA, the anti-poaching teams now mainly work outside the WMA, rescuing animals, bringing in vets when needed, and helping to resolve human-wildlife conflicts.
Demand for ivory and other animal-based products from international and domestic sources has drastically increased illegal hunting and killing of mammals, mainly elephant. Hunting of animals for bushmeat is also an issue, threatening game along human-wildlife interaction areas.
Efforts to combat poaching have been extensively implemented across Tanzania.Before the WMA was established, the area was losing up to 20 elephants per year to ivory poaching. Since the establishment of the WMA, ivory poaching has stopped altogether in the area.
Key to the success of the anti-poaching operations are our Rapid Response Unit, an autonomous unit with all necessary equipment that can quickly move to any part of the WMA in response to an alert. The team of seven highly trained anti-poaching rangers, is able to spend up to 10 days in the field with little or no support. This enables them to find the source of any reported incidents and provide a deterrent to poachers returning to the scene after the fact.
Human Wildlife Conflict
Pressure is increasing on local communities to switch to a “zero-grazing” lifestyle and cultivate land for for crops to bring to the table. This results in increased human wildlife conflict, where animals are raiding farms to eat their crops, the primary culprits being elephants.
Our rangers, their vehicles and the tools they provide protect the community’s farms. 10 years ago 70% of crops were being destroyed by elephants. Today only 7% are damaged. This action has decrease the friction between elephants and farmers, and created a change in the community's attitude towards elephant; “We used to spear elephants when they came to eat our crops, they would run back into the national park and die, now we do not need to do that any longer, the elephant is no longer our enemy” says Japhet Mollel- Mswakini Juu.
Reducing pressure on people's livelihoods is key to the overall success of the WMA. When communities do not see wildlife as a threat to their existence, they are willing to protect this wildlife and provide the anti-poaching teams with valuable intelligence on any illegal activity.
Growing awareness and collaboration in protecting wildlife is hugely important for the sustainability of the WMA. As the benefits from tourism accrue, the communities become more aware of the value of the community WMA. These communities work with WMA staff to preserve the land, and collaborate with them to protect its wildlife from poachers.
Randilen is a dry season grazing bank, meaning that the WMA protects the rangelands from illegal grazing and provides a dry season reserve for the benefit for the local communities. The community’s dry season grazing plan is protected by WMA Rangers, who help to control local communal access to these valuable grasslands.