Past, present and future perspectives


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Poaching is one issue being addressed in an increasing number of community-based natural resource management programmes in some regions; such programmes aim to conserve biodiversity whilst at the same time generating income for communities to help reduce rural poverty.

Gilles Nicolet/Still Pictures

Wildlife management in the region has undergone many changes over the past 30 years, from the colonial policies of protectionism of wildlife at the expense of communities, to sustainable utilization, which supports community involvement. Countries in different subregions have implemented or are implementing community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) programmes not only to address the issue of biodiversity conservation, but also to generate income for communities and to help to reduce rural poverty. One of the CBNRM programmes which has been introduced is the Tchuma Tchato ('Our Wealth') initiative in Mozambique's northern Tete province (see Box 3.19).

Box 3.19 Community takes pride in its wealth

Tchuma Tchato ('Our Wealth'), a CBNRM project, has helped to restore the people's control over wildlife and natural resources in northwestern Mozambique. Traditional hunting, on which the community depended for both food and income, was declared poaching' in 1989 by a private landowner to whom the central government had leased hunting rights. Now, with restoration of both control of and the right to derive benefits from the area's natural resources, the community is more inclined to protect those resources, resulting in better conservation of wildlife and habitats.

The Tchuma Tchato project region is in the biodiversity-rich 'Tri-Nations Corner', where the borders of Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe meet. The project encompasses six villages in the northwestern part of Tete province, in the mopane woodland, part of a vast, savannah-covered plateau encompassing more than 30 per cent of Mozambique's 799 380 km2. Tete is one of the least populated of Mozambique's 10 provinces. The project area, which is spread over 2 500 km2 adjacent to the Zambezi river, has a population density of fewer than 5 people per 1 km2, compared to about 2 590 people per 1 km2 in Maputo, Mozambique's capital.

Initiated in 1994, Tchuma Tchato was started, in large part, to undo problems created by the two-phase (1964-75 and 1976-92) Mozambican civil war. The conflict destroyed social structures, displaced millions of people, and devastated wildlife management structures and institutions. The Tete region, as well as other parts of the country, became a large, uncontrolled hunting area. Elephant populations were decimated as combatants on both sides hunted the animals for meat and ivory.

Tchuma Tchato's purpose is to make communities aware of the link between their economic welfare and the region's wild animals and biodiversity. The project stresses the advantages of the community acting as caretakers of the animals and the region, which means stopping poaching and overexploitation of resources. Since the project began, the elephant population has increased and is flourishing. The region's biodiversity provides a solid basis for ecotourism. For this reason, a seven-chalet campsite, controlled by the Provincial Directorate of Agriculture and Fisheries through the Tchuma Tchato project manager, has been built on the bank of the Zambezi river.

Before the project started, the community derived its income primarily from hunting, subsistence agriculture and fishing.The project created new sources of income by employing some villagers to work as staff at the chalet complex and as game scouts. Revenue from both game hunting and the chalet operation is split three ways: 35 per cent to central government, 32.5 per cent to regional government and 32.5 per cent to the Tchuma Tchato project. The six villages involved in the project have established natural resource management councils to help manage the project on their behalf and to decide how revenues are used.