In March Marc and I took an operations team trip through two of Tanzania’s iconic conservation areas, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Serengeti National Park. But unlike many tourists coming to Tanzania where these are common destinations, our safari was planned so that we could visit a group of Carbon Tanzania’s community scouts who are currently in the middle of a practical wildlife management course being taught by the Wildlife Training Institute of Pasiansi in Mwanza. Currently a total of 26 community game scouts from our Yaeda Valley and Ntakata Mountains forest conservation projects are enrolled in training for three months. Carbon revenues have previously allowed villages to enroll scouts on these ranger training courses, so we decided it was time for us to check the process out for ourselves. The Main campus is in Mwanza town where the focus is on academic studies, but we caught up with them at their bush training camp in Ikona Wildlife Management Area (WMA), on the western edge of the world-famous Serengeti ecosystem.
The camp was located in a forested valley in the WMA with giraffe and zebra commonly walking through the grounds. We spent our time in the camp interacting with the trainers and trainees and touring the premises in an attempt to get an insight into the feel of the course and its components. The syllabus includes training in forest management, paramilitary wildlife protection techniques including weapons trainings, and GPS and map reading skills. We were able to watch the trainees practice undertaking anti-poaching activities, and also watched them run through a range of discipline drills. The village game scouts also had the opportunity to do multiple patrols in the Serengeti itself, as well as the adjacent Grumeti Game Reserve, and various parts of the Ikona Wildlife Management Area.
Having the community scouts attend the training is part of our long-term investment in local people, building their capacity to manage their forest resources. The training also serves to ensure that the VGS feel empowered and proud of their roles as they return to their villages, where crucially they have paying jobs as Village Game Scouts waiting for them. This allows us to continue to support the community-led teams who are leading protection on the ground at our project sites. It means that they can continue to develop professionally and incorporate current new technologies and techniques. We can thank The Nature Conservancy’s Tuungane Programme for sending a group of trainees from the Ntakata Mountains REDD Project, as well as recognizing the communities of the Yaeda Valley for choosing to support their own development through collectively committing to pay the course fees!
If you would like to support the Village Game Scouts in protecting threatened forests and wildlife please visit our offset page.
Written by Carbon Tanzania Technical Advisor – David Beroff