Wildlife Management in Tanzania: State Control, Rent Seeking and Community Resistance
We appreciate comments received on earlier drafts from Liz Garland, Nicole Smith, Coleen Scanlon-Lyons as well as from two anonymous referees. We are also grateful for the assistance and cooperation received from villagers in Enduimet and Simanjiro and Maasai civil society organizations working in Loliondo. Benjaminsen, Minwary and Maganga received funding from the Norwegian Programme for Development, Research and Education (NUFU), while Goldman acknowledges funding from the National Science Foundation's International Research Fellowship Postdoctoral Grant #0602034 as well as grant #0921507.
Despite a decade of rhetoric on community conservation, current trends in Tanzania reflect a disturbing process of reconsolidation of state control over wildlife resources and increased rent-seeking behaviour, combined with dispossession of communities. Whereas the 1998 Wildlife Policy promoted community participation and local benefits, the subsequent policy of 2007 and the Wildlife Conservation Act of 2009 returned control over wildlife and over income from sport hunting and safari tourism to central government. These trends, which sometimes include the use of state violence and often take place in the name of ‘community-based’ conservation, are not, however, occurring without resistance from communities. This article draws on in-depth studies of wildlife management practices at three locations in northern Tanzania to illustrate these trends. The authors argue that this outcome is more than just the result of the neoliberalization of conservation. It reflects old patterns of state patrimony and rent seeking, combined with colonial narratives of conservation, all enhanced through neoliberal reforms of the past two decades. At the same time, much of the rhetoric of neoliberal reforms is being pushed back by the state in order to capture rent and interact with villagers in new and oppressive ways.
The last decade has seen a steady chipping away at the promise of community-based conservation espoused in the 1990s across Africa. Many of the advances made in legal reforms for the decentralization of natural resource management have either not been enforced, or have been actively reversed (Nelson, 2010). The gap between the discourse of decentralization and democratization of natural resource management and the practice of continued (or tightened) state control over resources was noted at the height of the decentralization craze (Benjaminsen, 1997; Goldman, 2003; Ribot, 2003). This literature pointed out that while there was a growing tendency among international and national governmental and non-governmental organizations to promote increased community participation as part of a ‘win–win’ scenario for both conservation and development, there was also resistance from some of the same actors to carrying this policy through in practice. The decentralization of natural resource management demands solid policies, functioning laws, accountable governments, and an engaged and informed citizenry. It also requires some degree of actual power transfer from the central government to local communities. Such transfer is particularly difficult and unlikely when the resource at stake is of high value and state institutions are non-transparent (Agrawal and Ribot, 1999; Nelson and Agrawal, 2008), as is the case with wildlife in Tanzania (Benjaminsen and Bryceson, 2012; Gardner, 2012).
The value placed on wildlife in Tanzania from colonial times to the present has had deep implications for the ways in which wildlife is managed in the country. The financial value of wildlife tourism for the Tanzanian economy was clearly spelled out by the first Tanzanian President, Julius Nyerere: ‘I personally am not very interested in animals. I do not want to spend my holidays watching crocodiles. Nevertheless, I am entirely in favour of their survival. I believe that after diamonds and sisal, wild animals will provide Tanganyika with its greatest source of income. Thousands of Americans and Europeans have the strange urge to see these animals’ (quoted in Neumann, 1998: 144). National earnings from tourism, of which most is wildlife-based, increased from US$ 60 million in 1990 (Nelson, 2009) to US$ 1,250 million in 2010 (World Bank, 2012). In 2012 tourist arrivals in the country reached 1 million, bringing a total of US$ 1.7 million.1 In addition, there is a sub-stantial hidden economy in the wildlife sector (World Bank, 2008). These revenues represent large and increasing rents that are captured by key actors in the sector (Benjaminsen and Bryceson, 2012; Cooksey, 2011; Nelson, 2009).
Tanzania has been particularly resistant to decentralizing control of the financial rewards from wildlife from the state to its citizens. Nonetheless, as community-based conservation initiatives began to spread around the world as a supposedly win–win solution for conservation/development problems in the late 1980s, the Tanzanian government was pushed by donors to sign on to the process. There has been a great deal of critique of this process — both of the limited way in which Tanzanian policies aimed at decentralization have actually played out in practice, and of the problems embedded within the policies themselves. In this article, we show that not only have decentralization policies in Tanzania been flawed in both discourse and practice, but they are now also being actively turned back, as new policies and laws reverse old decentralization policies and claims. These reforms — often associated with ‘community-based conservation’ endeavours — are being implemented through coercion, with local resistance to the process being met with a heavy hand by the central state. We argue that this reflects a reconsolidation of wealth and rent-seeking power by the state for control of a resource (wildlife) which it seems that key politicians and state officials had never actually intended to give up in the first place. With donor pressures removed, and armed with new neoliberal mechanisms to enhance foreign investment and ‘community involvement’, the government is well poised to solidify its grip on wildlife value, sometimes in new and oppressive ways.
This article is divided into three substantive sections. After a theoretical framing, we discuss in some detail the ways in which the Tanzanian state has recently been reconsolidating power over the wildlife sector in Tanzania, with examples from particular villages. This is followed by a section outlining specific rent-seeking behaviour occurring as a part of this reconsolidation of power. These processes are not, however, taking place without resistance from communities, and the final section provides examples of the different forms in which resistance is taking shape. In discussing these issues, we draw on readings of new legislation as well as case studies at three locations: Longido District, Simanjiro District, and Loliondo Division in Ngorongoro District.
In Longido, we look specifically at the Enduimet Wildlife Management Area (WMA), which consists of nine villages and is centrally located between Amboseli National Park in Kenya and various conservation areas in Tanzania. A number of species such as elephants, zebras, wildebeest and different antelopes migrate through the area. Sinya is the key village in Enduimet, and contains the majority of wildlife. Yet, Sinya only joined the WMA in late 2009, after several years of resistance. The case of Sinya illustrates the whole process of reconsolidation of state power, rent-seeking and resistance. Data for this case come from ninety-three household interviews in four of the nine villages, plus key-informant interviews with village leaders, district leaders, game scouts, NGO representatives, safari companies and officials of the Wildlife Division, conducted in the period 2008–12. To illustrate that the Enduimet case is not an isolated occurrence but reflects common trends seen elsewhere, we present similar stories from Simanjiro and Loliondo, although we do not have such rich empirical data from these two locations.
Simanjiro District is located on the eastern boundary of Tarangire National Park; the Simanjiro Plains provide an important wet season dispersal area for migratory wildlife from the park (wildebeest, zebra, gazelles and elephant). The plains lie within the village territories of Emboreet, Sukuro, Loborsoit and Terrat, all which have resisted establishing a WMA and have experienced conflict with the hunting industry. Simanjiro is used as an example of resistance. One of the authors has worked in the area intermittently since 2006, on community participation and wildlife conservation politics. Data were obtained through informal conversations and open-ended interviews with villagers, local leaders and local NGO personnel, as well as observations and participation in village-level meetings.
Loliondo Division lies east of Serengeti National Park, north of Ngorongoro Conservation Area and south of the Kenya Border. Loliondo is home to numerous wildlife populations and is part of a key dispersal area for migrating wildlife from Serengeti National Park. For this reason, Loliondo has long played a central role in both conservation discussions and the growing village-based tourism industry (Nelson et al., 2009). We draw on recent highly politicized events in Loliondo to discuss the reconsolidation of state power and community resistance; this is primarily based on secondary sources, but also on discussions held by one of the authors with NGO activists working in the area.
All three sites are located in the Northern Tanzania Safari route and are predominantly Maasai in population make-up. Maasai are (agro-)pastoralists who have a history of tolerating wildlife on their land. Today, livelihood diversification in Maasai areas has led to increased agricultural cultivation, and out-migration for work in cities and the mining area of Merrerani (Homewood et al., 2009; McCabe, 2003). Wildlife conservation fills another important niche of livelihood diversification, providing some incomes and village-level profits. Our findings — that this profit possibility is being undermined by a reconsolidation of state control of the wildlife sector in this and other areas — are therefore particularly troubling.
NEOLIBERALISM, NEOPATRIMONIALISM AND ‘BINGOS’
The literature on conservation in Africa contains numerous social science critiques of ‘participatory’ and ‘community-based’ conservation. Such work has successfully highlighted the gaps between rhetoric and action, and uncovered the complex power relations preventing the democratization of natural resource management (e.g. Goldman, 2003; Igoe and Croucher, 2007; Neumann, 2000).
A dominant focus of much recent social science critique has been the neoliberalization of conservation and the harmful consequences of this process for people and environments (Brockington et al., 2008; Büscher, 2010; Igoe and Brockington, 2007; Sullivan, 2006). Neoliberalism can be categorized as a policy agenda concerned with economic efficiency and the rolling back of the state that gained increasing international hegemony with the beginning of liberalization of the Chinese economy in 1978, and the elections of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in 1979 and 1980 (Harvey, 2005). In Tanzania, the neoliberalization of the economy started in the mid-1980s with the privatization of parastatal organizations, the deregulation and the opening up of trade and banking, foreign exchange deregulation, and tax reform (Cooksey, 2011). Neoliberal environmental policies are, however, not only about privatization and commoditization, but also include a promise of increased democracy and participation by undermining oppressive state institutions (Igoe and Brockington, 2007). In addition, neoliberal policies often promote the definition of collective rights to natural resources and the establishment of new types of territorialization to prepare the ground for business development and for making resources available to private enterprises through commodification (Brockington et al., 2008). Hence, typically neoliberal policies are about re-working the previous relationship between the market, the state and civil society (Heynen et al., 2007).
Neoliberal processes for conservation include an increased role for Big International Non-Governmental Organizations (BINGOs) in national conservation agendas, the commodification of environmental and conservation processes, the reduction in size and capacity of state bureaucracies, the replacement of state functions by civil society (often BINGOs), and the liberalization of investment opportunities in the conservation/tourism sector. Neoliberal conservation can also lead to increased dispossession of local communities as the resources, environments and landscapes involved become more valuable on the global market, prompting the creation of new protected areas and/or increased restrictions on resource use by locals to assure their value for tourists (Benjaminsen and Bryceson, 2012; Igoe and Sullivan, 2008).
While neoliberal forces have had a significant impact on the social, ecological, economic and political landscapes across Africa, many of the tendencies associated with wildlife conservation in Africa today are not new to the neoliberal era, but rather have been enhanced by neoliberal reforms. While the various ways in which nature itself is commodified have surely increased with neoliberalism (e.g. Payment for Ecosystem Services, carbon trading, UNREDD etc.) as Garland (2006) has pointed out, wildlife in Africa has long been valued as economic capital. Wildlife value is accrued through various circuits of wildlife conservation, wildlife hunting and wildlife-viewing tourism (Garland, 2008). Tanzanian governments have always sought to keep a firm grasp on this source of capital, even as they looked for ways to meet donor demands to include communities in wildlife conservation profits.
Neoliberal reforms opened more doors for investment in wildlife and tourism, and ushered in a period of increased foreign investment and community involvement in the sector. Some of these reforms provided additional opportunities for the state to capitalize on conservation, particularly the rise of foreign direct investments related to conservation tourism (Garland, 2006). However, other reforms related to the neoliberal shift and promoted by donors, such as increased participation of communities in conservation tourism and the overall decentralization of the wildlife sector, challenged government control over valuable resources and provided new opportunities for community profit making (Gardner, 2007, 2012). This challenge to state control and incursion into wildlife profits formerly the sole purview of the state can be seen as a factor behind the poor implementation of decentralization reforms by the Tanzanian government in the wildlife sector. Nelson and Agrawal (2008) show that when the value of a resource is high, and state institutions are non-transparent and inefficient, then little devolution is likely to occur on the ground, regardless of what policies are pushed through. They suggest this may help to explain the different degrees of real devolution across African states for wildlife resources, despite similar decentralization laws.
Following this insight, we see two important needs: (1) to analyse the recent shifts towards legislated centralized control of natural resources, including increased state violence against citizens in capturing wildlife revenues; and (2) to understand the ways in which community advances made through neoliberal reforms are being fought and pushed back by an increasingly heavy-handed state. This involves a focus not only on certain neoliberal policies that enable shifts in state power, but also on a historically patrimonial rent-seeking state.
The neopatrimonial state represents a form of governance ‘in which officeholders systematically appropriate public resources for their own uses and political authority is largely based on clientalist practices, including patronage, various forms of rent seeking, and prebendalism’ (van de Walle, 2001: 52). This is seen to be a key characteristic of African states and is also referred to as ‘belly politics’, a Cameroonian expression that was further articulated by Bayart (1993) as a complex mode of government that denotes ‘the accumulation of wealth through tenure of political power’ (Bayart et al., 1999: 8). The neopatrimonial Tanzanian state has, during the last decade, continued to gain power, control and rent-seeking capacity over wildlife resources, while neoliberal reforms theoretically sought to reduce the role of the state.
However, the state has not been the only actor involved in this process. International conservation interests, represented primarily by BINGOs, have long played an important role in managing wildlife resources in Tanzania (Benjaminsen and Svarstad, 2010; Brockington, 2002; Schroeder and Neumann, 1995). European ideas about vital wildlife resources being threatened by the African peasantry were not only important elements of colonial ideology, but informed policies from early in the independence period, and continue to exert an influence on the wildlife and tourism sector today. Leading international conservation NGOs such as World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Conservation International repeatedly stress that they are science-based organizations, while they also appeal to romantic ideas of wilderness to attract funding — including portraying small-scale farmers and pastoralists as threats to this wilderness.
The significant role played by BINGOS in Tanzanian conservation was institutionalized as part of the creation of a modern conservation-minded state.2 Today, while the Tanzanian government rolls back community-based reforms, there remains an international market for community-friendly ‘wild African’ safaris and conservation endeavours. In other words, the involvement of communities, at least in name, which is promoted by BINGOs using their power in marketing and fund raising, is essential for the promotion of wildlife tourism. Yet, communities are now being forced to participate in conservation and tourism along lines defined and policed by the state. We suggest that the Tanzanian government is in fact recapturing resources it never intended to give up in the first place — resources that now have the added marketing advantage of being ‘community friendly’. We argue that what is occurring in Tanzania today is a complex interaction of several factors, including neoliberal conservation, neopatrimonial state practices, and foreign control of wildlife conservation discourse and practice. This will be analysed below in relation to the withdrawal of donor funding, the wealth and corruption associated with tourism hunting, and the inconsistency of various Tanzanian resource-related laws that leave communities vulnerable.
Understanding how control over wildlife as capital has shifted historically and continues to shift today is essential to understanding the current situation. Garland argues that ‘the relations of production involved in wildlife conservation depend greatly on the social organization of control over the productive assets in question, and on the politico-legal frameworks through which this control is exercised’ (Garland, 2008: 62, emphasis added). Struggles between communities trying to lay claim to wildlife resources and the state reasserting its control, both through new legislation and the use of violence, can best be understood in this light.
FROM HOPES OF DECENTRALIZATION TO RECONSOLIDATION OF STATE CONTROL
Wildlife management has historically been a centralized state affair in Tanzania. All wildlife in the country is officially controlled by the Director of the Wildlife Division, in the Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources,3 except for animals inside national parks, which come under the jurisdiction of the Tanzanian National Parks Authority (TANAPA). The Director of Wildlife controls sport hunting, which provides a large portion of foreign income to the Tanzanian state. Wildlife also contributes to the national economy through wildlife-viewing tourism, which is mostly concentrated inside national parks, but increasingly also taking place on village land.
With the rise of tourism in the 1990s, two parallel trends emerged reflecting the liberalization of the wildlife sector. First, communities became more actively involved in tourism ventures. As tourism continued to increase inside national parks, safari companies started to develop individual agreements with villages that had abundant wildlife on their land to establish village-based wildlife-viewing safaris. This simultaneously provided a new marketing angle for tour companies, and a way for villages to benefit from wildlife directly through joint-venture contracts. Some of these villages earned US$ 30,000 to US$ 40,000 per year in direct revenue from safari tourism (Honey, 2008; Trench et al., 2009).4 Second, in response to pressure from international donors, Tanzania began to outline plans for the decentralization of wildlife management to local communities, particularly through the creation of village-based Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs).
The role of WMAs was outlined in the Wildlife Policy of 1998, which included a focus on the rights of local people to benefit from wildlife conservation, and the role that wildlife management could play in rural development. The policy stressed that people in rural areas should receive a fair share of the large revenues from safari tourism and sport hunting (URT, 1998). WMAs were proposed as community-run conservation areas, with several villages coming together and setting aside land for wildlife conservation.5 In return, the villages receive a certain proportion of the tourism revenues from these areas. There were many initial critiques of WMAs, mainly pointing at the heavy bureaucratic demands, continued state and regional government control over revenue collection, and the large role played by outside conservation organizations. It was argued that villages were being delegated certain privileges, but were not given authority over wildlife, and that WMAs were being proposed as a way to strengthen the national park system and assure the protection of important wildlife corridors and dispersal areas (Goldman, 2003).
Even with these problems, the new wildlife policy as a whole promised a shift towards engagement with local communities. But the development of the policy seems to have largely been a donor-driven process. Many donors were involved in the Tanzanian wildlife sector during the 1990s; the new policy was largely a consequence of the influence of those who subscribed to a win–win discourse of conservation and community development (Benjaminsen and Svarstad, 2010). It is doubtful whether there was any serious intent among key Tanzanian politicians and bureaucrats to follow through on a decentralization agenda. Many years passed before legislation was presented, and the process was far from transparent.6 Perhaps this is not surprising. As noted by Hodgson and Schroeder (2002: 92), the distribution of profits from wildlife that the policy introduced ‘threatened the powers of the Wildlife Division … and most particularly the revenue it regularly receives from hunting fees’.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the discovery of extensive corruption in the wildlife sector (Nelson, 2009, 2010; Nshala, 1999; Sachedina, 2008), and the failure of the government to implement the 1998 policy, led most donors to withdraw from directly supporting the sector. In 2007, government policy was revised and its tone changed (URT, 2007). The focus was now on state management of wildlife, and there was little mention of participation, development and benefits for local communities. The need to protect wildlife corridors, including those on village lands, was made explicit. In 2009, a new Wildlife Conservation Act was passed by the National Assembly. This law strengthens central control of wildlife and gives the Wildlife Division more opportunity to intervene in the management of village lands (URT, 2009). According to the Act, pastoralists need written permission to graze livestock in Game Controlled Areas (GCA) even where these areas overlap with village lands. Yet, most Maasai village lands overlap considerably if not entirely with GGA areas, which also act as prime areas for sport hunting. The Wildlife Division has always controlled wildlife on these lands (through hunting concessions); now they are expanding their reach to control the land itself. This means that under the new law, pastoralists risk having to seek permission from the Director of Wildlife to graze livestock on their own village lands.
This process of reconsolidation of state control over wildlife management is also playing out in contests over control of the two main income-generating activities in the sector: photo safaris and sport hunting. Hunting has always been under the control of the central state, managed through the Director of Wildlife. Hunting blocks are allocated to individual companies on village land, but villages play no role in the process, have little say in the way the company functions in their land, and obtain few benefits from the arrangement. In 2008, the state introduced new ‘Non-Consumptive Utilization of Wildlife Regulations’ to standardize fees for a variety of activities along the same lines as hunting revenues. The Regulations declare all non-consumptive tourism operations in village lands — including game drives, photography and walking safaris — illegal without the permission of the Director of Wildlife (URT, 2008). The Regulations were met with questions and resistance from local communities and tour operators alike. Villagers legally have the right to enter into contracts with an individual or company: photo safaris include such contracts and do not involve hunting, recognized as the purview of the Director of Wildlife.
Moreover, the sharing of revenue from wildlife utilization remains unclear. Safari operators have interpreted the new regulations as implying higher fees, which go in their entirety to the central government. In areas registered as WMAs, the community-based organizations (CBOs) responsible for managing WMAs (‘authorized associations’) will now receive from the Wildlife Division 65 per cent of the tourist revenues from non-consumptive use (photo safaris). For the villages that previously had individual deals with safari companies, with money going directly into village bank accounts, this means a considerable decline in income — a decline compounded by the fact that they now have to share this income with several other villages. In addition, since there is no open, accessible information about the total revenue received, it is difficult to verify whether the correct amounts are actually transferred to the CBOs in practice.7
In addition to control over hunting profits, the management of hunting (through the quota system) has also been reconsolidated under state control. When WMAs were initially introduced, villagers were promised that state-controlled sport hunting would be phased out in favour of local control of hunting within the WMA, with villages receiving hunting quotas. But devolving control over hunting to the local level was removed from the national agenda: it seems that the hunting industry is simply too lucrative for decentralization. Of the hunting fees collected by the Wildlife Division, 25 per cent8 is supposed to go back to the local level; this includes the districts as well as the CBOs. Yet it is not clear how much should go to the CBOs and, again, there is lack of transparency, with uncertainty about how much money is actually being distributed to the districts (Leader-Williams et al., 2009; Nelson et al., 2007).
If all these processes reflect different attempts at reconsolidating power over the wildlife sector — regulating non-consumptive tourism on village lands, regulating the use of village lands that fall within GCAs, and continuing to manage hunting and the profits associated with it, even within WMAs — how is this playing out on the ground?
When Enduimet WMA received user rights status in August 2007, the Arusha Times heralded the event on its front page saying, ‘Villages granted total authority over wildlife: investors uneasy about business prospect’ (Nkwame, 2007). The article went on to explain how, with their new-found authority, Enduimet WMA residents can enter into any contract with foreign investors and local firms, while having the power ‘to terminate game hunting and tourism business operations currently being undertaken’ (ibid.). What the article failed to realize, however, was that all business ventures were still subject to approval by the Director of Wildlife.
In the Enduimet WMA, as a result of the non-consumptive utilization of wildlife legislation, all tour operators stopped paying fees to the villages from 1 July 2008. Payment of all fees must now go through the Wildlife Division. Some companies feel that the new fees are too high for them to continue operating in local villages. Additionally, the new fee structure has caused confusion amongst villagers; many are not clear as to why they have stopped receiving money even though safari companies continue to operate tourism activities on their land. It has strained relationships between community members and safari operators. In the village of Sinya, the new regulations were seen as another attempt by the government to increase control over wildlife investments and weaken village authority over benefit allocation.
Prior to the establishment of the WMA, Sinya had a contract with Tanganyika Wilderness Camps (TWC) for photo safaris. When Sinya initially refused to join the WMA, the Tanzanian government forced the tour operator to move its camp to the neighbouring village of Elerai, putting a serious strain on relations between Sinya and TWC. The new regulations for non-consumptive tourism further complicated the situation: Sinya stopped receiving any revenue from TWC, even though the company continued to use Sinya's land for game drives. As far as the TWC's Administrative Officer was concerned, the company should not be paying both the villages and the central government, especially since the new fees were higher than the fees they had previously paid to Elerai and Sinya villages independently.9 The villagers in Sinya were unclear about the new regulations and felt that neither the government nor TWC were giving the village what was due to them. According to the Village Executive Officer (VEO)10 of Sinya: ‘They [TWC] are still coming [i.e. bringing tourists to their land] and for us, we don't know who is benefiting from that money. Because when they come, they are paying money and maybe the government is taking that money, but for us we are no longer benefiting’.11 The reason given by officials in the Wildlife Division for taking over the collection of revenues from safari operators is that there is not enough capacity or knowledge of financial management in the CBOs which run the WMAs.
Between 1999 and 2003, WMAs were pushed in Loliondo by both the central government and the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), but were successfully resisted by a coalition of villages (Ngoitiko et al., 2010). Despite local resistance, government pressure has persisted throughout Loliondo Division to control both wildlife revenues and the land on which hunting occurs. Several villages in the area have independent contracts with non-consumptive tourism companies; there are also hunting blocks in the area that are controlled through the central government. As in much of Maasai occupied lands, almost the entire area of Loliondo Division is located inside a hunting block, including the land of six villages inside the Loliondo Game Controlled Area (Nelson et al., 2009). This hunting block is under contract to Ortello Business Corporation (OBC), a company owned by the royal family of the United Arab Emirates (FEMACT, 2009).
OBC came to Loliondo in 1992. There was a national scandal when the central government allocated the entire Loliondo GCA to one company, despite it not being up for lease yet. Conflicts ensued between the company and local communities, as OBC put up permanent structures on village land without consulting village authorities (Nelson and Ole Makko, 2005). The company continued to work in the area with direct connections to and support from the central government, but without the support of villagers. Five years after the initial contract was signed between OBC and the Tanzanian government, villagers were informed that the contract had been renewed, despite promises that villages would be involved in the renewal process (Ngoitiko, 2008). Villagers were not interested in having the contract renewed, as they had a series of complaints about how the company was operating (Gardner, 2007), many of which were conservation related. For instance, residents were concerned with what they saw as indiscriminate capture and killing of animals (the company was allowed to capture and transport live animals back to UAE).
Local Maasai leaders had crafted strong relationships between their villages and private tour operators so that Maasai themselves could control and benefit from wildlife conservation on their lands (Gardner, 2007, 2012). The actions of OBC were seen as undermining these joint ventures through over-hunting, but also through direct threats and intimidation of tour companies. While OBC had legal rights to all wildlife in the area, as granted by the Director of Wildlife, the village authorities had the legal right to enter into contracts with private operators on their land. Maasai complained that OBC harassed non-consumptive tour operators working in the area and interfered with Maasai grazing rights in village land. More serious complaints about OBC included intimidation and threats, harassment and detention, and even torture by the OBC security forces (Ngoitiko, 2008). The words of one woman resident in the area express the Loliondo Maasai position: ‘the government and, indeed, justice are not on our side. We have been forced to accept things as they are because we have no power’ (quoted in Ngotiko, 2008: 4).
In 2008, OBC attempted some reconciliation with villagers. They tried to convince village authorities to sign a contract that would designate grazing seasons and locations so as to avoid conflict with hunting activities. A CBO in the area worked hard to get proper Maasai representation in the process, although this did not happen before several villages had signed the agreement anyway. Then, in July 2009, in the middle of a prolonged drought, villagers were told they needed to remove their cattle from areas utilized by OBC for hunting. They had nowhere else to go, and the land used by OBC had grass when few other places did. Residents complained of drought and hunger, and brought in traditional leaders to plead their case to the district council. Herders refused to leave — both those in villages who had signed the contract and those who had not.
On 4 July, government forces started to burn settlements in seven villages inside a hunting block, to remove residences said to be in areas set aside for the hunting company. In addressing the ensuing conflict, the government proposed to designate much of this area as a wildlife corridor and a Game Reserve to buffer Serengeti National Park, both prohibiting human habitation. It should be noted that the villages in question all have official village land use maps zoning specific areas for housing, grazing and wildlife viewing. Maasai in Loliondo are now recalculating their options, refusing to accept the Game Reserve and the wildlife corridor and proposing instead a WMA, but along revised lines, which take into special consideration the importance of pastoralist land use in the area.12
As central control over wildlife is re-asserted, wildlife revenues continue to be captured by local, regional and state elites. In this section, we discuss two types of rent seeking that are highlighted in debates about wildlife management in Tanzania: corruption related to the hunting sector and misuse of money from safari ventures.
Evidence suggests that sport hunting is controlled by a network of central bureaucrats and politicians, as well as Tanzanian and foreign business people (Nelson, 2009; Nshala, 1999). Presidential licences are ‘regularly issued to friends of the Minister or Director, or to former holders of these posts [and] [m]any concessions [are] allegedly leased to smaller national companies silently owned by senior public officials with political links in Ministry or Wildlife Department’ (Leader-Williams et al., 2009: 304). We have tried to obtain turnover figures from hunting companies as well as from the Wildlife Protection Fund of the Wildlife Division, with limited success.13 This fund collects and manages hunting fees and is responsible for their redistribution to the local level. Key actors have also resisted efforts to introduce more transparent and democratic processes around the allocation and monitoring of hunting blocks, which are hired out to hunting companies for a period of five years.
Among observers of the wildlife sector in Tanzania, there is general agreement that the hunting business is marked by extensive corruption (Jansen, 2009; Leader-Williams et al., 2009; Nelson, 2009, 2010; Nshala, 1999; Sachedina, 2008). Tanzania is the only country in eastern and southern Africa that does not have bidding rounds for hunting block allocation. The process lacks openness, and the prices are estimated to be well below the market level (Nelson, 2009; World Bank, 2008). This under-pricing creates opportunities for personal rent seeking for key officials who control the allocation of hunting blocks and the collection of hunting fees. The Wildlife Division seems unwilling to be publicly transparent about hunting fees worth millions of dollars every year (Leader-Williams et al., 2009). In recent years, there seems to have been a consolidation of central actors’ control of the hunting industry in Tanzania, in spite of the increased focus on corruption in the natural resources sector in Tanzania following, for instance, the disclosure of corruption in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (Jansen, 2009). Institutionalized corruption in the hunting sector also has negative consequences for wildlife populations and biodiversity because allocated hunting quotas are ignored and exceeded (Leader-Williams et al., 2009).
Where villages have individual deals with safari operators, state officials accuse village leaders of capturing most of the benefits for themselves. This is often used as an argument for more state control of such arrangements. A representative from the Wildlife Division in Arusha maintained that the non-consumptive regulations were set up to ensure funds would not be misappropriated or embezzled by village leaders and safari operators who, he claimed, have not been transparent regarding revenue collection and expenditure. The District Game Officer of Longido cited similar arguments when he urged the Enduimet community to join the WMA. He explained that community-based wildlife management through a WMA is a better option for the community because it assures more transparency. With the regulations on non-consumptive use of 2008, village leaders need to have a clear plan of development projects and to document their expenditure and progress before they can receive money from wildlife-related benefits in the WMAs. In the case of Sinya village, the District Game Officer contended that only certain people in the leadership have benefited from profits accruing to the village from non-consumptive tourism. Similar accusations have also been made in Emboreet village in Simanjiro District, where there are claims that money intended for village use has been appropriated by village leaders (Sachedina, 2008).
Central control of the wildlife sector will be further enhanced by the creation of the Wildlife Authority, recently announced in Parliament. Section 8 of the Wildlife Conservation Act of 2009 gave power to the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism to establish a Wildlife Authority. In July 2012, the Deputy Minister informed the Parliament that the Ministry was in the final stages of doing just that: he said that a task-force on the establishment of the authority had visited the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) and Ngorongoro Conservation Authority (NCA) to learn how they operate. In April 2013 the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism announced that the proposed Authority will start to operate officially in November 2013 after a Bill on its establishment is passed by the Parliament.14 The establishment of the Authority is expected to increase government revenues from forests, national parks and game reserves countrywide.
In general, the recentralization of control over revenues from safari tourism will increase opportunities for rent seeking among state officials who manage these revenues. The recentralization process may therefore be seen as a means to shift rent-seeking opportunities from the village level to the central state.
The (re)centralization of power by the Tanzanian state over wildlife in village lands has not gone unchallenged by villagers. State attempts to recapture income from individual contracts between villages and investors have led to resistance, as have the new centralized attempts to pressure villages to establish WMAs.
In Maasai areas in particular, there has been resistance to the government and BINGO-initiated process of establishing WMAs. As noted above, many Maasai villages had been in direct partnership with private tour companies and did not see the benefit of joining a WMA. Whereas partnerships with tour companies were under direct village control, WMAs — while promoted as community-based — mandated centralized authority, and often demanded the splitting of profits across multiple villages. In fact, many Maasai activists and customary and elected village leaders participated in early debates over the wildlife policy and contributed to demands made to parliament regarding the new wildlife law. Maasai have long seen their land alienated for conservation purposes: past conservation efforts in the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Mkomazi have meant forced evictions or severe restrictions of daily activities (Brockington, 2002; Neumann, 2000; Shivji and Kapinga, 1998). For many Maasai, WMAs represent the latest threat of land loss, and are therefore met with fear and resistance.
Organized resistance to WMAs and wildlife corridor protection has occurred in Loliondo, Longido and Simanjiro districts. Loliondo is the only place, however, which has managed to totally reject the establishment of a WMA on village land:
community members and local NGOs believed that a WMA might simply be an expedient way to place large areas of community land under central protection for wildlife, and that any tourism investments therein would primarily benefit external parties. … Ultimately, the WMA proposal was rejected following a long series of debates and meetings, including extensive pressure from outside for the communities to formally agree to WMA formation. (Ngoitiko et al., 2010: 275).
As described above, this resistance was ultimately futile; the central government has made it clear that, one way or another, it will control wildlife conservation efforts (and profits) in this area. This does not, however, diminish the role that resistance has played in Loliondo. Residents’ resistance to the WMA and to state actions in the area received national and international attention (Pampazuka News, 2009; Renton, 2009), demanding some degree of negotiation on the part of the government. Recent events in the area to establish a wildlife corridor have also been met with strong resistance by Maasai, drawing international media attention (Hall, 2013; Patinkin, 2013).
Sinya village resisted inclusion in the Enduimet WMA for several years, but after prolonged pressure from the government and African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), the village elected a new leadership in late 2009, which then agreed to participate in the WMA. Sinya initially refused to be part of the WMA because the villagers did not understand why they should share the tourism revenue with eight other villages, given that Sinya is clearly the village with the most wildlife. Since it is common for WMAs to have zones within which there are restrictions on grazing, villagers were also afraid of losing control over their own natural resources, especially their own grazing land, if they joined Enduimet WMA.
When Sinya refused to enter the WMA, Tanganyika Wilderness Camp was pressured by the government to move its camp to the neighbouring village of Elerai. The new camp was named Kambi ya Tembo (Elephant Camp). Sinya's resistance to the WMA continued, however, in the form of disturbing tourist activities. There were complaints from Kambi ya Tembo's manager to Sinya's leadership that young boys from the village were grazing livestock too close to the campsite and that the jingling of cattle bells disturbed guests at night. More serious accusations were made of village members blocking a TWC vehicle that was full of tourists from conducting their game drive on Sinya's land.
Distrust and resentment toward Enduimet WMA is also present in other villages in the WMA. Although actual cases of expulsion from the land or prohibition of grazing or firewood collection have not been documented in Enduimet WMA, anxiety persists. In the villages of Tinga Tinga, Ol Molog, Kitendeni and Elerai, household respondents alluded to or directly expressed their worries about land alienation, particularly when community members see beacons being placed on their land. They see the beacons as a sure sign that the land set aside for the WMA will one day be taken away from them.
In Simanjiro district, villages also fought against the creation of a WMA which was being promoted by AWF. The Simanjiro plains provide valuable wet season grazing and calving grounds for wildebeest and zebra, as well as a valuable seasonal pasture for Maasai cattle. Some have argued that the very survival of wildebeest and zebra in Tarangire National Park depends on their ability to access the high-quality pastures of the Simanjiro plains (TCP, 1998; Voeten and Prins, 1999); this has driven a series of conservation interventions in the area, many of which have been met with resistance from villagers. Resistance in Simanjiro villages is based on a history of land loss to conservation: herders lost access to important dry season grazing areas, drought reserves and water sources when they were evicted from Tarangire National Park in 1970 (Cooke, 2007; Igoe, 2004). Fears of park expansion continued into the 1990s (Hodgson and Schroeder, 2002) with the creation of a new game reserve on the southern boundary of the park. A proposal for the creation of a new conservation area in the plains was put forth by Frankfurt Zoological Society in the early 1980s (Borner, 1982), fuelling increased fears of land grabs by villagers (Goldman, 2009).
Wildlife continue to utilize village lands in Simanjiro, and some villages have found ways to profit from this through the creation of joint-venture contracts with tour companies. Lolkisale, Loborsoit and Emboreet villages have all participated in such endeavours. In Terrat Village, an innovative conservation easement was started by a consortium of tour operators, community organizations and researchers, with great success (Nelson et al., 2010). Yet, resistance to WMAs and centralized state control over wildlife has remained strong in many Simanjiro villages. AWF worked for years to convince Loborsoit village to accept a WMA, with little result. The campaign began to divide the village along political lines, and created increased tensions and conflict. At one point a group of women stood in the main road into Loborsoit village, physically blocking an AWF vehicle from entering the village. The WMA continues to be pushed by AWF, though there is little sign that the villagers will agree. By contrast, some villages (Sukuro, Emboreet) have requested to become part of the conservation easement in Terrat. This is because all of the money earned goes directly to the village, which has complete decision-making power over how it is used, and the easement does not forbid grazing of livestock.
Maasai on the other side of Tarangire National Park have also fought against a WMA, but with limited success (Igoe and Croucher, 2007). Here certain (non-Maasai) communities were convinced that a WMA was their best option; many did not realize the disadvantages until much too late (Davis, 2011), and other villages were split over the decision.
Wildlife management in Tanzania has been undergoing a process of reconsolidation of state control and increased rent-seeking behaviour combined with dispossession of communities. During the 1990s, the internationally influential win–win discourse on environmental conservation led Tanzania to develop a ‘community-friendly’ wildlife policy, including the establishment of Wildlife Management Areas on village land, through which villagers would participate in wildlife management and receive most of its benefits. WMAs would also serve to promote the positive image that BINGOs depended on to ‘market’ their conservation efforts to donors and individuals in the global North. Since the WMAs were proposed, however, they have gradually, and despite resistance from some villages, been transformed into tools for rent seeking by state officials. The element of rural development and community empowerment that played a key discursive role in this initiative in the early days has waned over time.
The reconsolidation taking place in Tanzania is not an exception. In southern and eastern Africa, there is an emerging trend of recentralizing control over natural resources, cancelling out earlier attempts to support rural livelihoods through devolution of rights to resources (Nelson, 2010). After two decades of community involvement in conservation-based tourism, wildlife resources can be seen as having added value which centralized states want to reclaim, if necessary through violent measures. Similar trends are also apparent in forestry, a sector that has made tremendous strides in participatory approaches. Today, with preparations for the implementation of UNREDD, forest conservation also faces the threat of recentralization and the removal of communities from forest reserves (Beymer-Farris and Bassett, 2012; Phelps et al., 2010; Sandbrook et al., 2010). By commodifying forests as ‘carbon sinks’, the UNREDD programme has the effect of increasing the value of the rent that forests represent and, hence, raising the stakes among powerful actors to appropriate this rent. This should not be surprising: non-transparent states are often resistant to devolving authority when resources are valuable.
The process of reconsolidation of wildlife governance has clearly been facilitated by neoliberal policies promoted in Tanzania from the early 1990s. In order to understand this process, however, it is necessary to study the neopatrimonial Tanzanian state that, during the last decade, has continued to gain power, control and rent-seeking capacity over wildlife resources. In addition, BINGOs have played an important role in managing wildlife resources in Tanzania, from the colonial era to the present. We argue that the forces of neopatrimonial governance and international conservation interests working through BINGOs, in close association with neoliberal reforms, can explain the reconsolidation of state control over wildlife that has taken place in Tanzania. What is happening in Tanzania today is thus more than just a new phase of neoliberal conservation, or the continuation of a corrupt neopatrimonial state, or the result of foreign control of wildlife conservation discourse and practice. Rather, it is the complex interaction of all of these forces.
The Arusha Manifesto of 1961, in which President Nyerere declared his dedication to wildlife conservation for newly independent Tanzania, was scripted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Mweka, the Tanzanian College of African Wildlife Management, was created by the African Wildlife Foundation (then the African Wildlife Leadership Foundation); see Bonner (1993).
According to the Wildlife Conservation Act (URT, 2009), the Director ‘shall be the principal advisor to the Government in all matters related to conservation and management of wildlife and wildlife products and shall be assisted by wildlife officers, wildlife wardens and wildlife rangers’.
These same villages today are key sites of resistance against the recentralization of wildlife control, as discussed below.
There are currently twenty-one WMAs in Tanzania in various stages of formal establishment. The number of villages in each WMA varies from two to thirty.
While local community-based organizations and national NGOs played a role in commenting on the initial policy, few if any of their recommendations were accommodated in the revised policy, and civil society organizations were excluded entirely from participating in the transformation of the policy into a bill.
Since the time of writing this article, new regulations have been released, which improve this situation on paper (URT, 2012). Now Authorized Associations of WMAs may enter into investment agreements directly with tour companies and hunting companies, with the approval of the Wildlife Division. It seems that these improvements have been brought about by the public debate and criticism of the Wildlife Division that has taken place during the last few years. Ultimate control, however, still rests with the Wildlife Division.
According to the new regulations of 2012, WMAs will now receive 75 per cent of the block fees and 45 per cent of other hunting fees, which is also a positive change in terms of increasing community benefits. It remains to be seen how this will be implemented in practice.
Interview, TWC Administrative Officer, Arusha, 24 November 2008.
This is a state appointed and paid position. The VEO is in charge of maintaining village records and budgets.
Recorded interview, VEO, Sinya, 14 November 2008.
The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism has since announced that the Tanzanian government will establish a 1,500 km2 wildlife corridor in the area, which will increase OBC access to hunting and limit Maasai access to land, while displacing 30,000 people (Hall, 2013; Patinkin, 2013).
Of the two hunting companies contacted, one willingly shared information, while the other declined; the Wildlife Protection Fund did not wish to disclose any figures on income and disbursements.
Reported in the Daily News 30 April 2013.
Tor A. Benjaminsen is a human geographer and professor at the Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (e-mail: email@example.com). Using a political ecology approach, he carries out research on pastoralism, land-use conflicts and conservation in African drylands and the Norwegian Arctic.
Mara J. Goldman is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography, and a research associate at the Institute for Behavioral Science, University of Colorado-Boulder (e-mail: mara.goldman@Colorado.edu). Her research focuses on issues of conservation and development in East Africa. She is co-editor (with M. Turner and P. Nadasdy) of Knowing Nature: Conversations at the Intersection of Political Ecology and Science Studies (University of Chicago Press, 2011).
Maya Y. Minwary (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) holds a Masters degree in Development Studies from the Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences.
Faustin P. Maganga is associate professor at the Institute of Resource Assessment, University of Dar es Salaam (e-mail: email@example.com). His research focuses on governance and institutional aspects of natural resources management, rural development planning and political ecology.