The Greater Kilimanjaro Landscape

The Greater Kilimanjaro Landscape

Community scouts
Project background

Species of focus: 



The Greater Kilimanjaro area, a 25,623 km2 transboundary landscape that spans the Kenya-Tanzania border. The Kilimanjaro landscape is a mosaic of ownership and land use. Protected areas include Amboseli, Kilimanjaro, and Chyulu Hills National Parks; there are community lands such as group ranches and Wildlife Management Areas; private land includes former group ranches that have been sub-divided and are held in title by Maasai. The whole area is home to around 1,930 elephants as well as other animals, such as lions, cheetah and black rhino.

Summary description: 

The project started in 2001 and brings together communities, the African Wildlife Foundation, Big Life Foundation, Kenya Wildlife Service, Tanzania Wildlife Division and Tanzania National Parks. It involves joint transborder patrolling, increased coordination amongst all parties involved, mobile units and sharing of intelligence. Throughout the area, community engagement in wildlife protection is integral to formal anti-poaching programmes. The Big Life Foundation, with support from the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), and working closely with Kenya Wildlife Service and the Tanzania Wildlife Division, oversees anti-poaching in the region. Big Life (whose senior staff include individuals drawn from the local communities) provides training and coordination for 200 community scouts that provide routine surveillance, anti-poaching and monitoring activities on community and private land. Transboundary wildlife protection is coordinated by AWF.

Anti-poaching activities are seen as one element in the programme which additionally focuses on developing community based tourism, community capacity building, grazing management, livestock improvement and compensation schemes for loss from wild animal predators. The local communities themselves fulfil a number of roles including providing wildlife scouts and guards and serving on community committees as managers and leaders (e.g. on Group Ranch Committees and Wildlife Management Area Committees).

Land management type: 

State managed protected area
Communally managed land
Private (individually held) managed land

Product(s) in trade: 

Product value at site level: 

The current value of ivory in Beijing is US $2,100 per kilogramme; a local poacher receives less than US $200 per kg.

Types of poachers: 

Individuals from outside
Project implementation

Is the project implemented by an external party? 


Implementing organisation: 

The project brings together the African Wildlife Foundation, Big Life Foundation as well as governmental institutions such as the Kenya Wildlife Service, Tanzania Wildlife Division and Tanzania National Parks.

Name of funding organisation(s): 

Not specified.

Community organisation(s) involved: 

Not specified.

Was the project established specifically to engage communities in combatting IWT? 


Year the IWT project or component started 


Project status is currently: 

Community engagement

Approach taken to community engagement and its rationale: 

Community members are employed as game guards
Community members benefit from tourism as a conservation incentive
Community members are provided with livelihood alternatives in lieu of wildlife use
Human wildlife conflict addressed as a way to decrease incentive for revenge killing of wildlife


Local communities receive revenue from tourism, revenue from hunting (in Tanzania) and in some cases ownership of tourism facilities. Local communities similarly benefit from conservation jobs, for example as a wildlife scout or guard.


Working a conservation job, such as a wildlife scout or as a guide or in a tourism facility, confers prestige as well as offering training. Local communities benefit from management engagement and leadership roles (on Group Ranch and WMA committees) and other social benefits associated with improved water services, schools, bursaries and medical facilities. Conservation activities also help to maintain open rangelands which are crucial to Maasai pastoralists in the region.

Note, there are risks involved in anti-poaching activities from possible encounters with armed poachers and from dealing with the difficult community relations that arise if a local person is killed by elephants.

The community engagement project is: 

Stand alone initiative

What “rules of engagement” for working with communities does the case study address? 

Include local people in wildlife monitoring and enforcement networks
Acknowledge and address costs to communities from living alongside wildlife

What has been the impact on poaching/IWT? 

Poaching levels have decreased

Further detail about the impact on poaching: 

Between 2013 and 2014 the Kenyan area of the project recorded a 54% decrease in elephant poaching, while there has been no known elephant poaching on the Tanzanian area of the project since 2012.
Lessons learned about engaging communities

What worked about the community engagement approach and why? 

Not specified.

What did not work and why? 

Challenges include

  • The benefits from wildlife based revenues do not impact every member of local communities; a single community poacher can have a negative impact. 
  • Population increases in the area means more pressure on wildlife, and more opportunities for human-wildlife conflict, with resulting animosity towards wildlife.
  • Opportunity costs increase as agriculture expands into the area’s wetlands, floodplains and rivers, with resulting sub-division of land for crop production.
  • The increase in demand and rising price of ivory creates a significant incentive for community members to poach.
  • The Tanzanian Wildlife Division is slow to release funds that are collected in Wildlife Management Areas and are due back to the communities.

Further comments or additional information about community engagement 

Lessons learnt include

  • Community engagement in wildlife protection needs professional management from experienced anti-poaching specialists.
  • Consistency - in terms of funding, benefits, engagement and management – is key.
  • Long term commitment, and therefore funding, is needed to identify and develop community conservation scouts, to maintain a presence in the region and to ensure a sustainable effect on wildlife conservation.

Case study information is up to date as of: 

Bibliographic information

Main source(s) of information: 

Published documentation


Conservation, crime and communities: case studies of efforts to engage local communities in tackling illegal wildlife trade


Roe D (Ed)

Year of publication: 


Journal/Book/Series details: 

A contribution to the symposium "Beyond enforcement", South Africa



Place published: 

London, UK
Case study entry information

This case study entry compiled by: 

Kathleen H Fitzgerald and Philip Muruthi

Date of case study entry: 

Wednesday, 17 August, 2016