Protecting wildlife by linking communities and conservation in Mozambique

Protecting wildlife by linking communities and conservation in Mozambique

Project background

Species of focus: 



Sabie Game Park - a private reserve running 40km along the eastern boundary with Kruger National Park and with the five neighbouring villages of the Mangalane community.

Summary description: 

The 'Protecting wildlife by linking communities and conservation in Mozambique' project addresses the impacts of illegal cross border trade of rhino horn upon white and black rhinoceros in Kruger National Park (KNP) in South Africa. KNP is home to the largest population of white rhino in the world as well one of the largest of black rhinos, but these animals are under serious threat. As of 31st July 2014, 400 rhinos had been killed in KNP, a loss of nearly two per day. As the largest rhino area in the country with the most numerous rhino population, Kruger is a critical site for ensuring the future of in-situ wild rhinos. According to South African Nationals Parks (SANParks), around 80 % of all poaching incursions into KNP come from Mozambique, in particularly by people moving across the international boundary on the eastern border. Mozambique is known to act as an important entrepôt for horn sourced from South Africa to move on to markets in Asia.

To some extent, Sabie Game Park (SGP), on the eastern boundary of KNP, is acting as a buffer between people in Mozambique and the rhinos in KNP. The Mangalane community, which inhabits SGP, is recognised as being agriculture-based with very low income, few opportunities for alterative livelihoods and as being disenfranchised with wildlife and conservation. In addition, until the introduction of the new Conservation Areas law in April 2014, there has been very little legislation relating to illegal activities with wildlife in Mozambique, making wildlife crimes very difficult to police.

With funding from the Darwin Initiative, from 2015-2018, this project intends to address the threats to rhinos in Kruger by developing alternative wildlife-based sources of income, enhancing community governance structures and increasing awareness of new legislation in the Mangalane community. Beneficiaries of this project will be the members of five villages of the Mangalane community living in the buffer area adjacent to the Sabi Game Park.

The project's theory of change is based on an understanding that people are dependent upon natural resource use in much of Africa. The project aims to develop a model for wildlife-tourism that benefits communities and as a result reduces illegal activity. Within this overarching goal is the need to identify a range of opportunities for income generation, both from agriculture development as well as the wildlife-based industry. The basic premise of the project is that greater involvement by the Mangalane community in natural resource management will lead to poverty reduction and improved livelihoods and that this will lay a foundation for reduced criminal activity.

In parallel, community governance needs to be strengthened to ensure active participation and equitable benefits sharing within the Mangalane community, with a particular focus on equitable benefit distribution including the most vulnerable members such as women. Formal committees and regular community meetings will be used to build capacity within the community to monitor and manage income and information. The project will also increase awareness about the new “Conservation Areas” law in both the community (through workshops) and government structures and develop a mechanism for apprehending and prosecuting illegal wildlife and natural resource activity agreed and implemented between community and private landholders as well as the judiciary and police.

Land management type: 

State managed protected area
Private (individually held) managed land

Product(s) in trade: 

Types of poachers: 

Individuals from outside
Project implementation

Is the project implemented by an external party? 


Implementing organisation: 

The project lead is WWF South Africa in collaboration with Sabie Game Park and Southern African Wildlife College.

Name of funding organisation(s): 

The Darwin Initiative's Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund.

Community organisation(s) involved: 

The Mangalane community is made up of five villages with a relatively small popylation - 21 households in Ndindiza village (69 adults), 23 households in Costine village (46 adults), 73 households in Baptine village (201 adults), 75 households in Mavanguana village (264 adults) and 94 households in Mukakaza village (238 adults).

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 benefit from tourism as a conservation incentive
Community members are provided with livelihood alternatives in lieu of wildlife use


Not specified.


Not specified.

The community engagement project is: 

Stand alone initiative

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

Build the capacity of local people to manage and benefit from wildlife
Include local people in wildlife monitoring and enforcement networks
Ensure wildlife generate benefits, both tangible and intangible, for local people
Ensure benefits are shared equitably

What has been the impact on poaching/IWT? 

Don’t know/Case study/project has not assessed impact on poaching

What has been the impact on wildlife populations? 

Not known/not documented

Further detail about the impact on poaching: 

The project has three relevant indicators: (1) attitudes towards wildlife in the Mangalane community improve; (2) community understand the value and prices of wildlife; and (3) social acceptability of rhino poachers in the Mangalane community is reduced. It is too early in the project to assess the impact, according to these indicators, as yet.
Lessons learned about engaging communities

What worked about the community engagement approach and why? 

The project is currently under implementation, and thus it is too early to comment.

What did not work and why? 

The project is currently under implementation, and thus it is too early to comment.

Case study information is up to date as of: 

Bibliographic information

Main source(s) of information: 

Interview or unpublished information provided by project implementer/researcher

Contributor(s)/Interviewee(s)/Document title: 

UK Government’s IWT Challenge Fund - Protecting wildlife by linking communities and conservation in Mozambique (Funding Proposal)

Date of contribution/interview/document: 

June, 2014
Case study entry information

This case study entry compiled by: 

Francesca Booker

Date of case study entry: 

Sunday, 18 September, 2016