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Friedkin Conservation Fund 2013: Year in Review

The Friedkin Conservation Fund (FCF) has had another successful year thanks to the generous support of our donors, volunteers, team members and many advocates across the globe. It is heartening to see the tremendous positive impact of our work throughout Tanzania.

With deep gratitude for your dedication to our mission and excitement for new endeavors, we look forward to the coming year. Here’s to our continued investment in the future of Tanzanian wildlife and communities in 2014.

Anti-Poaching – 2013 Results

To date, FCF teams on the ground have apprehended over 1,215 poachers and confiscated 163 firearms. Additionally, over 616 snares have been removed, 3,700 hardwood planks have been confiscated and well over 21,835 head of livestock have been herded out of the protected areas in which we operate.

Advanced Training

Weapons Handling & GPS Training: 
Tanzanian authorities granted permission to FCF anti-poaching teams in Maswa and Mwiba to carry firearms while conducting patrols. In April 2013, FCF implemented a firearms training program to teach selected rangers how to safely deploy with a weapon. Eleven rangers have passed through the Advanced Weapons Handling course to date and follow-up training will be held early next year.

Patrol teams have received GPS training for the new Patrol Planning and Feedback system which will use GPS and GIS data to improve the overall coverage and effectiveness of our anti-poaching efforts.

Special Operations

New Wet Season Microlight Base: 
In January 2013, FCF established a Microlight operations base in Kaliua Village, mid-way between our Moyowosi and Ugalla concessions. The development of this base enabled the microlight to fly on patrols in both concessions during the rainy season, which was previously not possible. Information from these flights led to a number of successful ground operations in both Ugalla and Moyowosi concessions.

Uvinza / Moyowosi Weapon confiscation operation:
During May and June 2013, the FCF teams used intelligence gained in the Moyowosi and Uvinza concessions to locate and confiscate 29 muzzle loaders, a shotgun, a rifle and four SMGs with the assistance of local police. This operation led to the successful arrest of 15 suspected poachers and was reported on local television news.

Maswa cattle operation: 
This year FCF again organized and funded an operation in Maswa Game Reserve aimed at halting the ongoing problem of cattle encroachment. The operation started in early July and lasted ten days with good results leading to the compounding of 35 individual herds of cattle and the fining of the cattle owners. This operation was executed with the cooperation of local law enforcement supported by 15 policemen and 15 game scouts. Thirty-two FCF rangers took part and six FCF vehicles were used.

Student Sponsorship

FCF remains committed to education in Tanzania through the student sponsorship program. We have continued to support over 150 secondary school students through donor support and funds generated through hunting. In 2013, through the generous support of the Dallas Safari Club and the Sackman Family, FCF sponsored students at university level at the Mweka College of African Wildlife Management, the University of Dar es Salaam and the University of Dodoma. FCF has also sponsored students at Teacher’s Training Colleges and Vocational Centers.

FCF continues to support secondary students from the villages in their project areas and has improved the screening and selection process to enroll high-aptitude students with the motivation to succeed.

In addition to the funds generated through hunting, several donors have provided funding for other projects such as playground construction and provision of hot meals for students in school. We would like to make special mention of the following donors for their generous contributions to our work:

•      The Kelter Family for their support for the Mwangudo Primary School Playground.

•      The Todd Brock Foundation for their contribution to the Mangula Primary school in Longido district.

•      The Mzuri Wildlife Foundation for their on-going support of the Olosiva and Makat Primary School Lunch

Programs.

Mwiba Makao Community Center, Police Station and Water Project

On May 28, 2013, we celebrated the handover of the Mwiba Community Center and Police Station to the village of Makao. Makao is adjacent to the Maswa Game Reserve and Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority. FCF raised the money to build these key community assets and involved the village in the design and construction to ensure everyone felt a sense of ownership and pride in these eco-friendly facilities.

The Community Center offers a place for the people of Makao to come together and benefit from the center’s three primary functions:  1) to facilitate early childhood development and raise awareness around healthcare and HIV, 2) to provide environmental education, and 3) to help community members to develop skills and knowledge that will help prepare them for jobs and markets throughout Tanzania.

The new Village Police Station is a tremendous advancement in the maintenance of law and order in this important area of Tanzania. 
At the handover ceremony in May, the Friedkin Family committed to sponsoring the Village Water Project whereby FCF drilled a borehole and installed a solar powered pump to ensure a reliable water supply.

Village Community Banks (VICOBA)

In 2013, FCF Community Development expanded its Village Community Banks (VICOBAs) program in western Tanzania to include communities around the Ugalla and the Moyowosi Game Reserves. VICOBAs are savings and microfinance groups which target low-income community members to encourage saving and provide access to micro-loans for small enterprise development.

This year, with a donation from Mzuri Wildlife Foundation, we donated 200 modern beehives to Tumo VICOBA group based in Sikonge Disrict Tabora region. The group will later pay back a portion of the beehive purchase cost which will make funds available for both income-generating projects and other well-established community groups.

Elephant Walk

Our FCF government liaison, Pratik Patel, is to be congratulated for completing a 400 mile (650 km) walk from Arusha to Dar es Salaam in 3 weeks, to raise public awareness of the elephant poaching crisis.

The walk ended in Dar Es Salaam and featured the handover of a check for $2,250,000 to FCF from the Friedkin group of companies in Tanzania, representing their 2013 anti-poaching and community development budget – the biggest single private donation towards wildlife conservation in Tanzania.

FCF anti-poaching efforts were further improved this year with the addition of a second helicopter – the Robinson R44 which will be permanently based on the Mwiba Wildlife Reserve. Experience has quickly proven that the helicopter is unmatched in efficiency in the patrolling of large wildlife areas and in its anti-poaching role.

Overall, 2013 has been a fantastic year for the Friedkin Conservation Fund as we have continued to make a meaningful impact in Tanzania while deepening our relationships throughout the nation.  Together, we look forward to building on these achievements in 2014.

- Alexa Andrews

Search Coordinates Generator Program

 

From Doug Braum, FCF Anti Poaching Manager:

As part of our strategy to improve FCF Anti Poaching Team effectiveness in the field, we have implemented a system focusing on the day-to-day planning of patrol movements and recording of patrol area coverage.

Developed in house, a new GIS (Geographic Information System) program allows management and team commanders to quickly, easily and repeatedly, generate a list of coordinates (coord) for teams to follow in their search of a chosen area; a search block or net is produced for the chosen area. Teams loosely follow these coordinates until they cross any poaching sign, and then react accordingly.

We hired a consultant, Julius Makarot, to train our teams and commanders on the use of this new Search Coord Generator program, and our rangers on more advanced GPS techniques. Good GPS skills are necessary and the data gained provide a feedback system for future improved patrol movement planning. Before graduating from Mweka College in Tanzania with a diploma in Wildlife Management and a certificate in GIS systems, Julius was a successful Anti Poaching Team Commander with FCF.

The first round of training took place in the field in Maswa Game Reserve. Rangers successfully learned and used new skills in actual patrol situations. This system was introduce as a test in two of our concessions and has proved very successful. In Ugalla Game Reserve over an 11 day period, our teams made five separate arrests and each in each arrest, a firearm was confiscated. In Maswa Julius Robinson, our Area Manager, reported that in a two week period they arrested five poachers and found 10 active poachers camps. Given the success of this new patrol system, we will be implementing in all of our concessions.

Tabora Beehive Handover

FCF makes every effort to empower local communities with sustainable income generating projects, in which they see tangible benefits from their natural resources and are able to improve their capacity to be self-reliant in the long-run.

Beekeeping is a prime example of how conservation of natural resources  is directly linked to community development. In August, FCF visited the Tabora District to present over 200 beehives to villagers. Beekeeping is a very important part of life in the Tabora District because it serves as a source of income and food for the villagers. The handing-over ceremony was attended by FCF Community Development staff led by FCF Community Development Field Manager, Nelson Ole Kuwai, and top district officials led by Sikonge District Commissioner, Hon. Hanifa M.Selengu.

Opening of ceremony; Sikonge District Commissioner Ms Hanifa M.Selengu handing over one of the modern beehives to Chairman of VICOBA TUMO group.

When the FCF team arrived, crowds of villagers greeted them. Before the ceremony started, the FCF team sat under a tent, listened to music, and watched villagers dance. The ceremony began with introductions, then proceeded with speeches from representatives of each of the various groups participating in the project. After several speeches, everyone stood up and walked over to the beehives, where the District Commissioner cut the ribbon and opened a few beehives to see what they looked like inside. During the District Commissioner’s speech, he mentioned he would like to get Tabora honey into the US market.

There were camera crews and reports from national television at the event recording the speeches and the various activities. Hopefully the presence of media at the event will assist in spreading the word about FCF’s mission and assist in FCF’s efforts to help even more villages.

Going to Tabora and seeing the beehive handover was a fascinating and rewarding experience.  FCF is confident that handing over the beehives to the villagers will increase incomes and improve livelihoods for the community. Additionally, this beekeeping project will benefit the environment by conserving biodiversity and raising awareness of conservation issues. FCF hopes to continue to work on projects that are as helpful to villagers as the Tabora Beehive Handover!