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Martin T. Walsh

MBOMIPA Project, Iringa, Tanzania & Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, U.K.

paper commissioned by EPIQ/Tanzania and presented to a Workshop to Review the Wildlife Conservation Act, 1974, Wildlife Division, Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Arusha, 21-23 February 2001


Dr Martin Walsh MBOMIPA Project P.O.BOX 398 Iringa Tanzania

tel. 026-2702686 fax. 026-2702807 e-mail.



Martin T. Walsh

The views expressed in this paper are those of the author alone and are not necessarily shared by colleagues or the institutions to which he is attached.

  • 1 Introduction

The consultant was asked to prepare a thematic paper that:

Provides an historical review of the involvement of local communities in wildlife conservation and management law and policy making processes in Tanzania;

Reviews the extent to which the provisions of the Wildlife Conservation Act, 1974, and the Wildlife Policy, 1998, are consistent with the notion that local communities should actively participate in devising and implementing wildlife conservation and management initiatives in Tanzania; and

With respect to such participation, discusses any notable shortcomings and constraints inherent in the Wildlife Conservation Act, 1974, and the Wildlife Policy, 1998, and the implication of these for local communities’ participation in wildlife conservation and management initiatives in Tanzania.

In addressing these terms of reference, it was further suggested that the consultant should focus, where appropriate, on the experiences of the MBOMIPA Project.

  • 2 A Brief (and Biased) Historical Review

Setting aside colonial experiments and the special case of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (which has its own legislation), the modern history of community wildlife management in Tanzania began in the mid-1980s. Important early milestones include the start of the Serengeti Regional Conservation Project (1986) and of the Selous Conservation Programme (1988); preparation of the first draft Policy on Wildlife Conservation and Utilisation (1988); and the start of TANAPA’s benefit-sharing programme (1988), later to be institutionalised as its


Community Conservation Service (CCS) (Hartley 1997: 11-12; Barrow et al. 2000:


The history of the two successive ODA/DFID funded projects in Iringa District, REWMP (Ruaha Ecosystems Wildlife Management Project) and MBOMIPA (Matumizi Bora ya Malihai Idodi na Pawaga, ‘Sustainable Use of Wild Resources in Idodi and Pawaga’) has been closely intertwined with that of community wildlife management in the country as a whole. The community component of REWMP began in January 1993 and ended in June 1996. This was followed by a period of transition between projects, which ended in October 1997 when MBOMIPA began. MBOMIPA is currently due to end in October of this year (2001), though an extension has been recommended (though not yet formally requested).

Both projects have been collaborations between the Wildlife Division and TANAPA, working together with Iringa District Council and villages in Idodi and Pawaga Divisions, adjacent to Ruaha National Park. The two divisions cut across the southern part of Lunda-Mkwambi Game Controlled Area, the protected area which forms the basis for current community wildlife management activities. One of the primary objectives of MBOMIPA is to pilot implementation of the new Wildlife Policy of Tanzania (1998); specifically to initiate the conversion of (at least a portion of) LM GCA into a WMA managed by the Idodi and Pawaga villages – of which there are now nineteen, with a total population estimated at over 30,000 people.

REWMP and MBOMIPA have played an active role in the development of the policy and – more recently – of guidelines for its implementation. This experience, together with lessons gained from working in Iringa District, have formed the primary inspiration for the observations and suggestions which I make in the sections to follow.

  • 3 Community Participation and the Existing Legal and Policy Framework

    • 3.1 The Wildlife Conservation Act, 1974

As might be expected, neither the Wildlife Conservation Act, 1974, nor the Wildlife Conservation (Amendment) Act, 1978, make direct reference to the active participation of local communities ‘in devising and implementing wildlife conservation and management initiatives’. This is not surprising given that these Acts were drafted and enacted well before the popularisation of CBNRM initiatives in Tanzania. The general philosophy behind the two Acts is one of ‘protection, regulation and punishment’; and the principal powers of wildlife conservation and management are vested in the President, the Minister responsible, the Director of Game (Wildlife), and the Game Officers appointed to administer this legislation ..

The principal Act (WCA, 1974) does, however, envisage a possible collective role for local communities in the consumptive utilisation of wildlife (note utilisation,


not conservation or management). The relevant sections and subsections are 26 (1) and 27 (1 & 2):

26.-(1) The Minister may, by order in the Gazette, declare any body of persons, whether corporate or unincorporated, or any ujamaa village to be an authorized association for the purposes of this Act.

(2) The Minister may, by order in the Gazette, declare any body corporate to be a designated organization for the purposes of this Act.



licensing officer may grant a


licence for the hunting of a

specified animal to any authorized association:

Provided that the licensing officer shall not grant a game licence for the hunting of a specified animal to any authorized association unless he is satisfied that the meat of the animal hunted will be made available for consumption by all the members of the association.

(2) A game licence granted to an authorized association under subsection (1) shall entitle any member of the authorized association who has attained the apparent age of eighteen years to hunt, in accordance with the conditions of the licence, the animal specified therein.”

Section 26 (1) gives the Minister considerable latitude in declaring an ‘authorized association’ (AA): no criteria are given that must be satisfied by a ‘body of persons’ or ‘ujamaa village’ before it can be gazetted as an AA. It is clear from the following section, however, that the main function of AAs (at least as far as the Act is concerned) is to hunt game and share the resulting meat among their membership. There are no other references to AAs in either the principal or subsidiary legislation. While this need not exclude AAs (e.g. a registered village gazetted as an AA) from natural resource management functions, the legislation clearly does not give them any active role of this kind in the types of protected area with which it is concerned: game reserves, partial game reserves, and game controlled areas.

Notwithstanding these limitations, have the few provisions of the WCA, 1974, regarding AAs ever been put into practice? Have any ‘ujamaa’ (or other) villages, or local communities in any shape or form, ever been gazetted as AAs for the purposes of the Act? Has any attempt ever been made to gazette or otherwise declare villages to be AAs outside of the context of current donor-funded CBNRM projects? Why has this not (or rarely?) happened?

Villages in the ‘pilot’ projects that have supported community hunting (i.e. SRCP, SCP, and REWMP) have functioned much as the WCA envisaged that its AAs would. At least in the case of REWMP, however, the letter of the law was not followed. In 1994 the project requested its first quota for community hunting, and was granted one for that year by the Director of Wildlife. For strategic reasons this quota was not used until May following year (1995), when the Director himself urged the project to press ahead with its community hunting programme. Another quota was then requested and granted for the 1995 hunting season, and a second community hunting exercise began in August. This whole process was embroiled


in controversy, bringing the project into direct conflict with resident hunters and the regional and district authorities (Hartley 1997: 25, 29-34).

The project was given a mandate to organise community hunting by the Director of Wildlife, and strong support from headquarters was instrumental in enabling the project to survive the various challenges it faced. As far as I am aware, no attempt was made to follow the provisions outlined in the WCA. According to these, the Minister could have been asked to declare the participating villages to be an AA (or number of separate AAs), so that they could then undertake community hunting under the terms envisaged by the Act. In hindsight, gazettment of a village AA or AAs at an early stage might have put the project in a much stronger position, giving its promotion of community hunting a sound legal base. Instead the project was extremely vulnerable, and very much dependent on the support and interventions of the Director and other senior staff.

Needless to say, the project became even more vulnerable when participating villages opted (with project encouragement) to sell their annual quotas to resident hunters rather than hunt the animals themselves (with project and district assistance) and sell the game meat among themselves. There is no provision at all for this kind of arrangement in the WCA. The first auction of village game quota was held (against much opposition) in June 1996, just as REWMP was drawing to an end. Villagers’ right to sell their quota was enshrined in a document prepared by REWMP, agreed by the project’s District Steering Committee, and endorsed by the Director of Wildlife. This document outlined a Strategy for Transition between REWMP and its successor project, MBOMIPA, and included details of how villagers might sell their quota, if they chose to do so (REWMP 1996: 3). The Director’s endorsement of this provided the project and participating villages with the mandate to proceed with the sale of village quotas.

It should be evident that this is a fragile basis on which to proceed. Fortunately, and following the negotiation of an effective compromise with resident hunters in 1997, MBOMIPA has not had to face the severe challenges from them which REWMP did. Nonetheless, the Wildlife Division is keenly aware of its legal vulnerability in this regard, and this has had some negative effects on project development. Last year (2000), for example, project villages requested that their quotas should be sold in open auction. The project’s District Steering Committee (chaired by the District Commissioner) endorsed this request, and began to draw up plans for the nationwide advertisement of the sale. However, the Director of Wildlife advised that this would be unwise, one concern being that a national announcement might expose the Wildlife Division to the possibility of legal challenge over the sale. As in the previous years, the project therefore facilitated negotiations over the sale of the quota to two existing local groups of clients.

In this and other respects the project and participating villages are operating in a legal limbo. In some cases it is possible to interpret the WCA ‘creatively’, ‘bending the law’ in our favour. An example of this is the prosecution of farmers invading hunting blocks in the GCA, the basis for prosecution being their possession of agricultural implements, presumed to be ‘weapons’ according to the definition provided by the WCA (section 2, ‘Interpretation’, and section 11 (1) (b)).


In many other cases the project has to rely on support from other authorities (e.g. Wildlife Division headquarters, the District Administration) and/or has to fall back on its own resources, among them sheer bluff. Pressure from potential tourist investors has caused the project particular difficulties in this respect. Lack of legal support or published guidelines has fuelled the suspicion in some quarters that the project has been deliberately blocking investments; whereas, in fact, it has been trying to ensure proper planning and to protect villagers from unscrupulous operators. Canny investors, meanwhile, are well aware of the loopholes in the existing legal framework, and in some instances have been quick to take advantage of them.

  • 3.2 The Wildlife Policy of Tanzania, 1998

The new Wildlife Policy of Tanzania (WPT) makes ample reference to the participation of local communities in wildlife conservation and management, as well as their role in utilisation. The philosophy of the WPT contrasts sharply in this respect with that underlying the WCA, and provides a good starting point for amending the earlier legislation. The present paper is, indeed, being written as a part of this process.

Although criticisms might be levelled at the WPT, many of them quibbles over points of emphasis and wording, it is perhaps more important to consider how relevant parts of the policy are being implemented. The WPT is now almost three years old, and earlier drafts of it were in circulation for much longer. In that time significant progress has been made in some of the projects piloting community wildlife management (perhaps most notably in SCP and REWMP / MBOMIPA), and over the past year plus considerable progress has also been made in drafting Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Guidelines. Indeed, an important synergy has developed between the two, between project experiences and the development of the Guidelines, with each feeding productively off the other. MBOMIPA has played an active role in this process.

I will focus my comments here on the forthcoming Guidelines, as I understand these are developing. Community participation in wildlife management in the WPT hinges largely (though by no means exclusively) on the proposed creation of a new category of protected area, community-run Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). This is what most of the pilot projects are piloting, and the Guidelines will provide a lot of guidance on exactly how WMAs should be established and managed. In addition to clarifying points which remained vague in the WPT (e.g. the way in which an AA might be constituted), the Guidelines will spell out the details of how to go about hitherto difficult and sometimes controversial aspects of community wildlife management (including procedures for developing investments, and for sharing costs and benefits).

There is perhaps a risk that the Guidelines will become too detailed. In this respect the drafters are caught in a dilemma. Specificity is demanded by many of the challenges to community-based management which the Guidelines are designed to address. I have already referred, for example, to the ease with which some


investors can slip through legislative loopholes, possibly to the disadvantage of community stakeholders. On the other hand, too much detailed direction may act to reduce the options available to communities, and dampen the potential for innovation. There is also a danger that the procedures outlined in the Guidelines for establishing WMAs will discourage communities by their cost and bureaucratic complexity, and that WMAs will therefore only be formed in areas where significant external support can been obtained (many game-rich communities are among the poorest and most undeveloped in other respects).

From this point of view, the WCA and the Guidelines can be thought of as representing two extremes. The WCA is not at all community-friendly. If they are written in the spirit of the WPT, the Guidelines will be just the opposite. At the same time, there is a danger that they may become stifling in their attention to detail. In the next and concluding section I will suggest how this dilemma might be best resolved.



  • 4.1 Shortcomings in the Legal and Policy Framework

First, let me summarise some of the main points I have made so far.

The WCA, 1974, makes no explicit provisions for the role of local communities in the conservation and management of wildlife. The two sections which provide a possible role for community-based AAs limit that role to consumptive utilisation. In any event, these sections of the WCA appear to have been little used. Pilot projects like REWMP and MBOMIPA have largely been forced to develop in something of a legal limbo, relying instead on a mixture of goodwill and persuasion, not to mention the all-important support of successive Directors of Wildlife. This unsatisfactory state of affairs will continue until the WCA is amended to reflect current policy.

The good news is that the WPT of March 1998 has provided a firm foundation for the development of community participation in wildlife conservation and management. The draft Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Guidelines have taken this positive process an important stage further. There are, however, are number of possible risks lying ahead. One is that the Guidelines will emerge as a set of overbearing regulations which stifle instead of encourage community initiatives. Another is that the possible costs and complexity of putting them into practice will act as a further discouragement to the development of community associations and WMAs. To this extent the Guidelines might backfire, contrary to all the good intentions and hard work which are being put into their formulation.

  • 4.2 How Can These Shortcomings Be Addressed?

The WCA (including both principal and subsidiary legislation) clearly needs substantial amendment to reflect the changed priorities of the WTP and especially the role the latter gives to local communities in wildlife conservation and


management. At the same time, we should ensure that the Guidelines remain as open and flexible as possible, and responsive to the needs of the communities which may use them.

I propose the following way forward. The Guidelines, I suggest, should be converted into regulations under the provision of the following existing section of the WCA, 1974:

84.-(1) The Minister may make regulations for the better carrying out of the purposes of this Act and for the better conservation of wildlife…”

At the same time, ‘flexibility clauses’ should be incorporated into the Guidelines, and provision should be made for their regular review and revision. New and untried elements in the Guidelines will need to be tested in the field, and it is particularly important that they remain responsive to changes suggested by the experiences of the pilot projects and other community initiatives. Serious consideration should be given to the development of simplified Guidelines, appropriate to different local potentials for establishing WMAs (in the same way that simplified versions of the Land Use Planning guidelines are being developed). We should neither assume nor insist, for example, that WMAs might only be developed in game-rich and extensive areas of the kind found in current pilot projects. We should give communities every possible incentive to form AAs and designate WMAs, not least by making sure that the regulatory framework is as community-friendly as possible.

This approach further suggests that only the most necessary elements of the WMA Guidelines / regulations be incorporated into amendments to the WCA. Although the WCA makes little reference to the role of communities, the majority of its existing provisions are not necessarily inconsistent with such a role. A relatively small number of additions and changes, albeit critical ones, might be sufficient to amend the WCA so that it reflects the spirit of the WTP and the most important of the provisions required by the WMA Guidelines. In particular, basic provisions relating to the gazetting of WMAs can be added on the model of existing sections about the creation of GRs and GCAs (replacing the latter). The present small (and largely ineffective) provisions about AAs can also be changed and expanded to reflect key relevant components of the Guidelines. Again, the important point is that only the most essential amendments should be made, and that these should provide for flexibility in the event that the details of the Guidelines / regulations will themselves change.


Barrow, E., Gichohi, H., and Infield, M. (2000) Rhetoric or Reality? A Review of Community Conservation Policy and Practice in East Africa (Evaluating Eden Series No.5). London: IIED / IUCN.

Hartley, D. (1997) Community Wildlife Management: A Review of the ODA’s Experience in Tanzania, report to the Overseas Development Administration, London.


Ruaha Ecosystem Wildlife Management Project (REWMP) (1996) Strategy for Transition between REWMP and “Matumizi Bora ya Malihai Idodi na Pawaga” (MBOMIPA). Documentation agreed by REWMP District Steering Committee and endorsed by Department of Wildlife. REWMP, Msembe.

The United Republic of Tanzania (1974) The Wildlife Conservation Act, 1974.

The United Republic of Tanzania (1978) The Wildlife Conservation (Amendment) Act, 1978.

The United Republic of Tanzania (1998) Wildlife Policy of Tanzania, Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Dar es Salaam.