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Year : 2007  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 232-261

The Evolution and Reform of Tanzanian Wildlife Management

1 School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
2 Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA, USA; Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies New Haven, CT, USA
3 United Nations Development Programme - Global Environment Facility, Nairobi, Kenya

Correspondence Address:
Fred Nelson
Independent Consultant, P.O. Box 8372, Arusha, Tanzania.

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Date of Web Publication26-Jun-2009


Natural resource management efforts in sub-Saharan Africa and throughout the tropics widely advocate the increased involvement of local communities in management decisions and processes. In Tanzania, wildlife management is largely centralised, featuring large state-protected areas and strict controls on resource use throughout the colonial and post-independence periods. During the past two decades a policy reform narrative has emerged in Tanzania, strongly supported by donor agencies and foreign conservation organisations, which aims to increase the participation of rural communities and decentralise wildlife management to the local level. Despite official gov­ernment policies calling for these reforms, administrative and legal measures enacted during the past 10 years have, contrastingly, increased central con­trol over wildlife and reduced the rights of rural communities. This diver­gence between the rhetoric of policy statements and management practice is best explained by the historical legacy of centralised control over wildlife and the institutional disincentives to devolving authority that have become entrenched within Tanzania's wildlife bureaucracy. These factors undermine efforts to reform the country's wildlife sector and reflect fundamental political economic challenges facing natural resource decentralisation efforts throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa and the developing world.

Keywords: Tanzania, wildlife management, community-based conservation, policy reform, devolution, decentralisation

How to cite this article:
Nelson F, Nshala R, Rodgers W A. The Evolution and Reform of Tanzanian Wildlife Management. Conservat Soc 2007;5:232-61

How to cite this URL:
Nelson F, Nshala R, Rodgers W A. The Evolution and Reform of Tanzanian Wildlife Management. Conservat Soc [serial online] 2007 [cited 2020 Aug 11];5:232-61. Available from: http://www.conservationandsociety.org/text.asp?2007/5/2/232/49231

'The interests of the people must be paramount…the conventional atti­tude as regards game preservation requires revisions' (Sir Donald Cameron, Governor of Tanganyika, 1926 (quoted in Neumann, 1998:102).

'The ownership of land and natural resources, access and the right to use them are of fundamental importance, not only for more balanced and equitable development, but also to the level of care accorded to the environment. It is only when people can satisfy their needs, have con­trol of the resource base as well as have secure land tenure that long­term objectives of environment protection can be satisfied' (Tanzania Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (1998a: 4)).

   Introduction Top

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA has seen a considerable shift in policy approaches to natural resource management (NRM) during the past 20 years (IIED 1994; Hulme and Murphree 2001; Wily and Mbaya 2001). Centralised resource management practices instituted during the years of European colonial rule and maintained by post-independence governments are increasingly chal­lenged by new approaches calling for increased local participation, rights and economic benefits (Adams and Hulme 1997). Both government policies and donor-supported projects increasingly call for community-based approaches to biodiversity conservation and NRM, which vest local people with authority over resources. These decentralised strategies, while widely supported by for­eign donors and an array of conservation and development interests, often struggle to become established due to historical, political economic and ideo­logical factors (Brockington 2002; Ribot 2002; Murphree 2002; Shackleton et al. 2002; Jones and Murphree 2004; Ribot 2004; Ribot et al. 2006). We pro­vide a case study exploring some of the tensions surrounding tropical conser­vation policy and practice by examining the dynamics of contemporary wildlife policy reform efforts in Tanzania, set against the backdrop of Tanza­nian wildlife management's historical development and the country's contem­porary political and institutional context.

Tanzania has one of the highest levels of biodiversity and wildlife richness in the sub-Saharan African region (URT 1998). Wildlife plays numerous so­cial and economic roles in the country, ranging from the cause of widespread local human-wildlife conflict, to a source of (often extra-legal) sustenance for millions of rural villagers, to underpinning a national tourism industry that earns over $700 million per year and accounts for about 5-10 per cent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (World Bank/MIGA 2002). Reflecting its contemporary importance, wildlife has played an important role in Tanzania's history since the pre-colonial era. Wildlife management's history in Tanzania dates back to the local rules and customs of the pre-colonial era, but the first formal wildlife conservation laws were propagated in 1891 shortly after the beginning of German colonial rule. These initial regulations and wildlife pro­tected areas (PAs) represented the beginning of a process of increasing central control over wildlife use and reducing local use rights.

The foundational tenets of restrictive legal institutions and PAs, common throughout Africa under European rule, were reinforced and expanded after the end of the colonial era by the post-independence government for both economic and ideological reasons. Despite the protection given to wildlife, il­legal use as well as human-wildlife conflicts increased in the 1960s and 1970s, and by the 1980s species like black rhino and elephant had been widely over-exploited. These problems served to move Tanzania's wildlife sector towards a process of legal and policy reform which began in the late 1980s. This process in turn fed off broad economic liberalisation and decen­tralisation reforms occurring in Tanzania as well as the proliferation of com­munity-based conservation efforts and concepts throughout eastern and southern Africa during the 1980s and 1990s.

This reform process has been strongly supported by foreign donors and conservation organisations for the past 15 years. It resulted in the passage of Tanzania's first official wildlife policy in 1998, which aims 'to allow rural communities and private land holders to manage wildlife on their land for their own benefit' (MNRT 1998b: 14). Numerous pilot community-based con­servation projects have been initiated in an effort to put this reformist princi­ple into practice for the benefit of both rural livelihoods and wildlife conservation interests (Barrow et al., 2000; IRG 2000; Baldus and Siege 2001).

But the institutional reform of wildlife management in Tanzania as a re­sponse to changing policy, new narratives, and practical challenges in rural landscapes has proven to be fraught with tension and inconsistency. Conflicts over land and resource rights in areas where wildlife populations occur along­side local people have grown among government agencies, rural communities and private interests. More than 15 years after the wildlife sector reform proc­ess began in Tanzania, relatively little has been accomplished in terms of ac­tually devolving authority for wildlife to the local level. Contemporary legal measures and administrative decisions point more towards a process of greater consolidation of centralised power and control over wildlife's economic value than to devolutionary reform.

This contrast between reformist narratives and the reality on the ground suggests a need to re-think the models used for both understanding and pursu­ing community-based conservation reforms. In Tanzania's case, the central factors in determining outcomes include: (a) the historical legacy of central­ised resource management systems; (b) the institutionalised interests that state agents possess for maintaining control over valuable resources and (c) the way that proponents of reform, ranging from rural communities to bilateral donors, are able to influence those central interests. Reform efforts must con­front these institutional legacies, and the tension between historical practices, entrenched political economic interests and incipient reform movements is a defining element of tropical conservation efforts today (Brosius et al. 2005). Tanzania's experience is therefore instructive not only for scholars and practi­tioners in East Africa, but also for an understanding of the challenges facing policy reforms seeking the integration of rural livelihoods and biodiversity conservation efforts throughout the tropics.

This paper is structured as a historical narrative of Tanzanian wildlife man­agement's changes and continuities since the colonial era, with a more de­tailed account of the dynamics surrounding contemporary reforms. We then analyse those reform processes in terms of the interests and incentives of the key institutional actors, and the differential capacities of these actors to influ­ence policy decisions and administrative actions within the context of the modern Tanzanian state (cf. Gibson 1999; Ribot 2004). This analysis deline­ates a cursory political economy of wildlife management in Tanzania, and highlights the critical factors explaining the outcomes of reforms.

   The Colonial Heritage Top

The onset of German colonialism in what would become Tanzania occurred gradually from 1885 to 1891, and coincided with a time of crisis for the re­gion's wildlife populations (Koponen 1994). The rinderpest epizootic that en­tered East Africa in 1889 caused the death of up to 90 per cent of the region's ruminant ungulates, including hundreds of thousands of buffalo, wildebeest and giraffe (Gichohi et al. 1996). German observers recalled that in 1890 'one could 'wander about the colony for the next 10 years without seeing any more wildlife than in 2 hours at the Berlin zoo'' (Koponen 1994: 536). Elephant numbers were greatly reduced at this time following several hundred years of exploitation through the commercial ivory trade. Ivory prices at Tabora, in western Tanzania, increased ten-fold between 1846 and 1858 as local elephant populations became depleted and the sources of the ivory trade moved west into the Congo Basin (Iliffe 1979: 48-49).

As a result of the depletion of animal populations, the Germans imple­mented regulations to control wildlife use in order to maintain the resource's values in terms of both recreational hunting as well as commercial products like ivory. The first hunting regulations were introduced into the colony's laws in 1891 (Majamba 2001). By 1896, comprehensive wildlife legislation required a license be purchased for all hunting carried out in the territory (Koponen 1994: 537). Colonial regulations also banned customary hunting practices such as the use of nets, pits and snares. The result of these measures was to convert, within the first decade of colonial rule, wildlife from a locally used and customarily managed component of the natural resource base, to a resource which Europeans largely possessed exclusive legal access to.

The second basic colonial conservation strategy, slower to emerge than the initial restrictions on hunting, was the establishment of PAs for wildlife. The initial game reserves were established by the Germans as hunting areas that could be closed or opened depending on wildlife numbers. By 1913, there were fourteen such reserves, mostly in the east, which covered a total of 3 per cent of the territory's land area (Koponen 1994: 538-540). As a rule, however, local people continued living in these areas based on their customary rights to occupy land, although there as elsewhere, their rights to use wildlife itself were significantly curtailed.

Following World War I, the British took over control of Tanganyika from the Germans as a League of Nations Protectorate. The British built upon the Germans' framework of centralising control over wildlife by regulating utili­sation and establishing PAs. However, while the German regulatory approach had been rather piecemeal, with the 1891 and 1896 legislation followed by additional regulations in 1898, 1900, 1903, 1905, 1908 and 1911; the British took a more holistic legislative approach by enacting a succession of major game ordinances in 1921, 1940 and 1951 (Majamba 2001: 7-8).

The British re-gazetted game reserves established by the Germans, which now included areas defined as 'complete' game reserves where no hunting was allowed and the Governor could prohibit or restrict entry, settlement and cultivation of the land (Neumann 1998). By 1930, game reserves with varying levels of restricted land and wildlife use had been established in places such as the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro and the Selous (Neumann 1998). Colonial efforts to combat sleeping sickness out­breaks throughout much of the territory in the 1920s and 1930s by concentrat­ing rural people in settlements further facilitated the establishment of wildlife reserves (Kjeckshus 1996). For example, the Selous Game Reserve was con­solidated from a number of smaller reserves in 1922; a total of 40,000 people had been moved out of what is today Africa's largest wildlife reserve (WSRTF 1995a: 33-34; Kjeckshus 1996: 74).

These European wildlife policies reflected the broad colonial era process of transferring control of and access to valuable resources from Africans to Europeans (Neumann, 1998). Large areas of forests were also placed under the direct control of colonial administrations in East Africa, as was the most valuable land. In Tanganyika, the Land Ordinance of 1923 made all land the property of the British Crown, and customary land rights were held at the dis­cretion of the Governor (Shivji 1998). This legal arrangement effectively served to enable expropriation of indigenous lands when it suited the colonial regime's political and economic objectives (Shivji 1998). Despite these broad trends, tensions existed within the colonial administration, in Tanganyika as in other colonies, between controlling key resources and avoiding measures that might provoke excessive local discontent. [1]

By the 1930s, though, the tenor of European conservationist attitudes and policies was changing, and colonial administrators came under greater pres­sure to implement stricter conservation measures. The Convention for the Pro­tection of the Flora and Fauna of Africa propagated in London in 1933 mandated that colonial administrations move towards establishing national parks where wildlife would be protected and human rights more strictly lim­ited (Neumann 1998).

The Game Ordinance of 1940 was enacted partly as a result of this northern pressure, establishing national parks as a legal entity for the first time in Tan­zania (WSRTF, 1995a). Traditional hunting was still allowed in game re­serves, and the wildlife use rights of hunter-gatherer tribes such as the Hadzabe and Ndorobo were specifically preserved. In the government's view, placing wildlife use restrictions on these people 'could have exterminated the group and that was contrary to the provision of the trusteeship' (Mchome 2002: 79). It is important to emphasise that under the 1940 Ordinance, as with its 1921 predecessor, the customary land rights of the communities living in areas declared as national parks or game reserves continued, although the law gave the Governor power to extinguish those land rights in national parks based on the public interest.

Thus, despite increasing foreign pressure for stricter preservationist meas­ures, local customary rights of occupancy and limited wildlife use in PAs were maintained during the first three decades of British administration. But by the 1950s the tensions between wildlife and people were growing. Euro­pean preservationist efforts centred on Africa's wildlife and Edenic land­scapes was intensifying (Anderson and Grove 1987), while at the same time independence movements in East Africa, largely focused on issues of land rights and resource access, were gaining momentum (Neumann 1998). [2]

In 1959, the Serengeti National Park was re-gazetted in an arrangement that resulted in the re-location of resident Maasai pastoralists from the park (Bon­ner 1993; Neumann 1998). A new National Parks Ordinance passed that year extinguished all customary land rights of communities living in the Serengeti and any future national parks, meaning that local people were henceforth not allowed to live in these areas, and establishing an important precedent as the colonial era moved towards its close.

   Post-Colonial Wildlife Law and Policy Top

In Tanzania, as throughout the wildlife-rich territories of east and southern Africa, departing colonists agonised over the loss of wildlife that was sure to follow the replacement of colonial stewardship with indigenous rule (Bonner 1993). Western conservationists anticipating disaster for the country's wild­life under African rule developed strategies in the changed political environ­ment of the post-colonial era. First, they mobilised foreign resources to support wildlife conservation in Africa. This effort was led by a suite of rela­tively new organisations such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the World Wildlife Fund and the African Wildlife Foundation (Bonner 1993). With approximately 90 per cent of conservation funding pro­vided by foreign donors in Tanzania today, these groups clearly have provided a key financial incentive for the continuation of strong conservation policies during the past 40 years (URT 1998).

The second strategy for promoting conservation in post-independence Tan­zania also revolved around financial considerations, but in a different way. Not only could western organisations and governments provide funding for conservation, but so could wealthy foreigners simply by going to see (or per­haps shoot) those animals in their natural environment. This wildlife-based tourism industry seemed poised to provide valuable foreign exchange to the young nation. While emphasising the variance in conservation perspectives between himself and Europeans, President Nyerere also seemed to accept this argument on behalf of wildlife:

'I personally am not very interested in animals. I do not want to spend my holidays watching crocodiles. Nevertheless, I am entirely in favor 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 Nash 1982: 342).

Thus in the first decade after independence, wildlife conservation policies in Tanzania changed little from the colonial period. European laws restricting local use of wildlife and traditional hunting practices remained in place, and the creation and expansion of PAs continued. Tarangire National Park, for ex­ample, was created out of Tarangire Game Reserve in 1970, which removed it from use for dry season grazing by local pastoralists (Igoe and Brockington 1999). PAs increased markedly, as weakly protected Game Controlled Areas were up-graded to more exclusive Game Reserves and National Parks (Swai 1996).

The perpetuation of colonial wildlife policies was also reflected in wildlife legislation passed in the post-independence era. The Wildlife Conservation Act of 1974 (WCA) repealed the Fauna Conservation Ordinance of 1951, but was by no means a departure from the colonial wildlife management frame­work.

The WCA, which remains in force as the main wildlife legislation in the country today, continued and intensified the colonial practices of restricting local wildlife use and consolidating state authority. The WCA did not seek to reinstate traditional use rights to wildlife or enable local management and ac­cess to the resource. It provides no explicit exceptions for hunter-gatherer tribes to continue using wildlife as were made in the British wildlife laws. The WCA does provide the Director of Wildlife with discretionary authority to al­locate hunting rights or licenses to an 'Authorised Association', which can in­clude a local village, but this provision has rarely been used to allow rural communities access to wildlife.

By contrast, the main uses of wildlife which have been developed and pro­moted under the legal framework of the WCA have emphasised commercial uses regulated through state controls rather than use by locals. Tanzania has developed a tourist hunting industry which is one of the largest in sub­Saharan Africa, generating about $27 million in total annual revenues (Baldus and Cauldwell 2004; Barnett and Patterson 2006). [3] Since the mid-1980s, when the hunting industry was opened up to private companies, the Wildlife Division in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism has overseen the allocation of hunting concessions to those outfitters. The game reserves and game controlled areas managed according to the WCA underpin this signifi­cant industry, with about half of the concessions located in game reserves and half in game controlled areas or undesignated lands (Barnett and Patterson 2006). Importantly, the WCA places no land use or residency restrictions on game controlled areas and these areas have continued to be used and occupied by local communities, organised since the 1970s as legally constituted vil­lages with corporate powers. [4]

The WCA and the centralised wildlife management policies that have been pursued under it reflect the general governing characteristics of the post­colonial Tanzanian state. The country's socialist development policies adopted in the late 1960s were a profound departure from the colonial era in terms of their motivation and ideology, but they also served to reinforce and expand the role of the state in virtually all facets of the Tanzanian economy. As with control over wildlife and other productive natural resources, the state maintained statutory control over land ownership (Shivji 1998). And Tanza­nia's rural villigisation programmes of the mid-1970s, where up to 5 million Tanzanians were relocated, with little heed paid to pre-existing land rights or claims, represented an unprecedented effort by the state to shape rural patterns of land use and livelihoods.

   Crisis and Reform Top

In the years after independence, the capacity of Tanzania's wildlife manage­ment authorities to police rural resource users deteriorated, despite the infu­sion of financial support from western conservation organisations. Factors contributing to this reduced government capacity included the retirement of senior staff and poor recruitment policies, regional decentralisation policies, high rates of inflation leading to reduced salary purchasing power and hence greater rent-seeking motives, and reduced revenues. By the late 1970s the country's economic condition was rapidly worsening as a result of both its so­cialist policies and outside shocks, especially the 1978-79 war with Uganda (Bigstein et al. 2001). Within this context, funds for wildlife management grew scarcer still. At the same time, the prices of both rhino horn and elephant ivory on international markets boomed, fuelling an increase in poaching of these species. The commercial poaching of elephants and rhinos, coupled with widespread hunting of other game species for meat in rural areas, served to reduce the country's wildlife populations. By 1980, black rhinos had disap­peared from large parts of the country, including many areas where they had formerly been abundant (Borner 1981). Elephant populations also crashed due to poaching in the 1970s and 1980s, declining from an estimated 370,000 in 1970 to only 55,000 in 1990 (WSRTF 1995a) [Table 1].

Just as Tanzania's anti-poaching regulations had proven difficult to enforce and unable to prevent the declines of many large mammal species, PAs de­signed to safeguard wildlife habitats were also proving deficient in key re­spects. In savannah ecosystems, wildlife generally uses areas much larger than those 'protected' within the boundaries of parks and reserves. In Tarangire National Park, for example, wildlife moves out of the park in the rainy season to calving and grazing areas on adjacent communal and private rangelands (Borner 1985). At least half of the total range of elephants in Tanzania occurs in unprotected areas, with elephants often moving back and forth across park boundaries through numerous migration corridors (Blanc et al. 2003).

The inadequacy of PAs combined with the difficulty of enforcing legal pro­hibitions on rural wildlife uses played an important part in triggering new ideas in Tanzania about ways to work with communities surrounding PAs in order to devise more equitable and practicable conservation policies (Baldus et al. 1994). This movement towards community-based conservation was in­formed by similar experiences and experiments occurring elsewhere in sub­Saharan Africa which emphasised the role of local rights and market incen­tives in sustainable NRM (IIED 1994; Adams and Hulme 1997). As a result, by the late 1980s, several avenues for pursuing new community-based man­agement initiatives in Tanzania were under development. First, a number of pilot projects were initiated by the Wildlife Division and Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), [5] often supported by foreign donors and conservation NGO's, which focused on participatory management and benefit sharing around parks and reserves. Second, a process began to formally define Tanzania's policy for wildlife management [6] in a way that would address existing challenges, and which could then be used to guide reform of the country's wildlife laws as necessary. This process was also funded principally by donor agencies and western conservation NGOs, [7] and aimed to facilitate strategic planning for wildlife management in Tanzania and to establish an agenda for the requisite legal and policy reforms (WSRTF 1995b; Leader-Williams et al. 1996).

The resultant policy review process called for significant reforms to the wildlife management framework that had operated in Tanzania since the colo­nial era, with the focus being on new approaches on community lands outside of parks and reserves. The conclusions of a Ministerial task force made up of a combination of Tanzanian wildlife officials and expatriate technical advisors noted that, 'The present state ownership of all wildlife breaks down incentives for proper custodianship by rural communities for the wildlife among which they live' (WSRTF 1995a: 2). The task force further concluded: 'It is essential to the future of wildlife conservation in Tanzania that local communities who live among the wildlife should derive direct benefit from it, otherwise all fu­ture conservation efforts will be condemned to failure' (WSRTF 1995b: 100). At a national workshop held in 1994, the then-Director of Wildlife, M.A. Ndolanga, endorsed these findings with the following statement:

'Ownership of wildlife is another major issue that must change to en­courage community-based conservation. At present the state owns all wildlife and villagers in community-based conservation project areas are issued with a quota by the Department to give them the opportunity to hunt legally. Although this is a considerable step forward, the vil­lagers do not own the wildlife and until they do, they will not feel re­sponsible for it' (Ndolanga 1996: 14).

Enabling local communities to control and benefit directly from tourist hunt­ing enterprises was central to the reform agenda that the Ministry and its do­nor supporters described at this time, since hunting had the greatest economic potential for generating benefits from wildlife in rural areas where tourism in­frastructure was poorly developed. An official policy and management plan for tourist hunting called for efforts 'to widen opportunities for rural peo­ple…to participate in the tourist hunting industry and to ensure a more equita­ble distribution of revenue' (URT 1995: 1).

By the time this policy development concluded, the mechanisms for deve­loping community wildlife management had been identified and described in considerable detail. The villagers would be able to decide how they wanted to utilise that wildlife through activities such as tourist hunting, wildlife viewing, game cropping or wild meat harvesting, subject to some degree of over­sight or quota designation from the Ministry. Legislation providing for the creation of WMAs had been drafted as early as 1994 (WSRTF 1995a).

In 1998, the Wildlife Policy of Tanzania was released following approval by cabinet and parliament, and based on the task force's principles and rec­ommendations. The policy promotes local participation in wildlife manage­ment and the promotion of community-based conservation through the establishment of WMAs. The policy notes that wildlife conservation has his­torically failed to 'compete adequately with other forms of land use, espe­cially to the rural communities', and that this was a result of the 'inadequate wildlife use rights' held by local landholders (MNRT 1998b: 6). Although the state will retain ownership of wildlife, the policy calls for the government to develop 'an enabling legal, regulatory, institutional environment for rural communities and private sector to participate in wildlife conservation' (MNRT 1998b: 7) In its clearest statement of devolutionary intent, the policy declares, 'It is the aim of this policy to allow rural communities and private land holders to manage wildlife on their land for their own benefit' (MNRT 1998b: 14). WMAs are detailed as the means to accomplish this by allowing rural communities to designate areas where they will be 'managing and bene­fiting from wildlife on their own lands' (MNRT 1998b: 30).

These wildlife sector reforms were part of a much broader set of economic and political reforms occurring in Tanzania during the 1990s, all of which aimed to liberalise the economy as well as the single-party political system. [8] Local government reforms called for decentralisation of service provision from central Ministries to the district level, in order to bring services closer to rural citizens. Forestry policy had been overhauled in a similar manner to wildlife, to promote local ownership of forests and community management (MNRT, 1998a). The mid-1990s witnessed a debate over land tenure reform, which resulted in a new land policy in 1995 and new land legislation, finally replacing the 1923 Land Ordinance, in 1999 (Sundet 1997). These land tenure reforms sought to provide a framework for promoting private investment and ownership of land, as well as to secure community rights amidst substantial pressure to do so following the widespread land tenure insecurity of the pre­vious two decades (Shivji 1998). The new legislation retained formal owner­ship of land in the hands of the state but strengthened the legal status of customary land rights [9] and established a more accountable governance framework for village councils to manage lands on behalf of village assem­blies (the broader 'community' in a given village) (see Wily 2003).

Thus by the late 1990s, as a result of the wildlife policy's development, other ongoing government reform processes, and an array of emerging com­munity wildlife pilot projects, there was a widespread perception in Tanzania that wildlife management was on the brink of significant and far-reaching change. At an international conservation conference at the College of African Wildlife Management in Mweka, Tanzania, held in December of 2000, Tanzania's Director of Wildlife captured the tone of these developments by stat­ing that 'wildlife conservation outside core PAs in the new millennium will be mandated to local communities' (Severre, 2000: 22).

   Reform, Revenues and Rural Communities: 1990-2005 Top

In the 1990s, the liberalisation of Tanzania's economy resulted in a flood of investment into the wildlife-based tourism sector. Tourism revenues grew at over 10 per cent annually for most of the decade, from only $60 million in 1990 to $725 million in annual value by 2001 (World Bank/MIGA 2002: 21-22). Much of this development has been concentrated in the northern part of the country, in and around places like Serengeti, Lake Manyara, and Tarangire and Kilimanjaro National Parks and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. But ecotourism activities also expanded beyond those PAs into sur­rounding community lands. Community lands have a number of advantages over adjacent PAs with respect to tourism activities (Nelson 2004a). First, they are generally much less crowded and provide tour operators with exclu­sive wilderness experiences, which is particularly attractive to high-end op­erators that put a premium on such exclusivity. Second, these areas may have just as much wildlife as adjacent parks, particularly around areas such as Ser­engeti and Tarangire where wildlife is highly mobile and seasonally migratory beyond park boundaries. Third, community lands lack the strict regulations of national parks which, for example, prohibit or restrict activities such as walk­ing, hiking, and night drives. Lastly, such tourism enterprises can combine both cultural and nature-based tourism activities.

Consequently, tourism has expanded over the past 5 to 10 years in commu­nity lands outside of state PAs, particularly in northern Tanzania (Nelson 2004a). Tour operators developed a framework for structuring these ventures on community lands according to legal contracts with village councils so that the communities receive set payments in exchange for allowing companies access to village lands and agreeing not to farm or settle in those areas (see Dorobo Tours and Safaris and Oliver's Camps Ltd. 1996; Honey 1999; WOien and Lama 1999). Such ventures were explicitly encouraged by the wildlife policy's goal of 'Locating future major tourist developments outside PAs in order to reduce negative impacts and enhance benefit sharing with local com­munities' (MNRT 1998b: 13). Many villages now earn considerable revenues from such activities. Ololosokwan village, for example, earns roughly $60,000 annually from tourism activities carried out on its lands (Nelson and Ole Makko 2005). The revenues are determined according to contracts be­tween the village and tour companies, which generally pay both annual fees for rights to access an area as well as fees per tourist per night spent on com­munity lands. These revenues fund an array of social services in the commu­nity and have been instrumental in creating incentives for community-based NRM (CBNRM) efforts at the local level (Nelson and Ole Makko 2005). For example, Lolkisale village in Monduli District also earns significant revenues from tourism and has set aside roughly 135,000 acres of wildlife habitat on its village lands adjacent to Tarangire National Park for tourism and conservation (Nelson 2004b). A number of other communities in northern Tanzania earn between $5,000 and $30,000 annually from these types of agreements with tour operators. Although this is a small proportion of the overall tourism in­dustry, the revenues are an important source of diversification at the local level as well as a source of community level incentives to conserve wildlife and important habitats outside PAs. The salient feature of these ventures is that they are mutually negotiated between private operators and locally elected village governments, and thus are under the jurisdiction of local com­munities.

But these ventures have created conflicts with the tourist hunting conces­sions leased by the Wildlife Division, which frequently fall within the same community lands. [10] All fees paid by hunting operators granted these conces­sions go to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism through the Wild­life Division, with part being retained in a wildlife protection trust fund and part flowing back to the Treasury (Baldus and Cauldwell 2004). Of the hunt­ing revenues, 25 per cent are supposed to be redistributed to the districts where hunting takes place and are then incorporated into the district councils' operational budgets, but rarely are returned to the villages where hunting takes place. Any funds that are realised directly at village level from tourist hunting are generally only those provided by the hunting company operating there, who are required by government regulations to support community de­velopment (MNRT 2000). Communities have statutory rights to land under the 1999 land legislation but not to wildlife (as determined by the WCA of 1974) and have little involvement in the concession allocation process and no recognised legal claim on the revenues generated. [11]

There is thus a broad economic conflict of interest over the use of commu­nity lands where wildlife populations live side-by-side with local people. Vil­lages are excluded by wildlife legislation and administrative practice from having a role in the management of hunting activities taking place on their lands, and some communities have engaged in non-consumptive tourism ven­tures as an investment activity that earns them income directly. The central government, by contrast, earns large amounts of revenue from wildlife by leasing village lands as hunting concessions (Baldus and Cauldwell 2004). The hunting activities and tourism ventures conducted in the same places at the same time create conflicts, but are driven by the differing interests of varying central, local, and private actors in the different forms of wildlife­based commerce (see for example Masara 2000).

The government's response to these emerging conflicts in 1999-2000 was to produce regulations, [12] which are principally concerned with defining pro­cedures for hunting companies to follow in the use and management of hunt­ing concessions, but which also prohibit tourism ventures situated within the boundaries of hunting concessions (including those on village lands) without the approval of the Wildlife Division. This regulatory measure has the practi­cal effect of rendering illegal the many community tourism ventures, and their associated revenue streams, which had emerged during the previous decade. Although following shortly after the Wildlife Policy's release, the regulations represent an attempt on the part of wildlife authorities at the Ministerial level to consolidate control over wildlife in unprotected areas beyond the use of these animals, but also in terms of other land use activities which may be indi­rectly related to wildlife but do not actually involve utilising wildlife or its products. It therefore creates a fundamental challenge to the land rights of af­fected rural communities in terms of their ability to determine the economic activities that occur on village lands (Nshala 2002).

Set against this broad competition between villages and state agents over tourism revenues, wildlife use and land rights, PA expansion continues in many parts of Tanzania (cf. Brockington and Igoe 2006). South of Tarangire National Park, the Mkungunero Game Reserve was gazetted in 1996. This new PA, coupled with a revision of the boundary of Tarangire National Park, created a local conflict by claiming land formerly used by the residents of ad­jacent villages (Masara 2005). To the west of Serengeti National Park, evic­tions occurred following the 1994 creation of Ikorongo and Grumeti Game Reserves, and legal contests related to local communities' land claims have continued in that area (LHRC 2003). In the southern part of the country, the formation and protection of Usangu Game Reserve, which will soon be up­graded to a national park, has led to recent evictions of several hundred peo­ple (Ubwani 2006). Overall, the number of national parks and game reserves has continued to increase since 1990 and up to the present, despite the changed focus of policy [Figure 1].

While conflicts have proliferated relating to tourism, safari hunting, PA ex­pansion and village land uses, the formal process of implementing the Wild­life Policy has nominally continued. An overhaul of the WCA of 1974 has been initiated in order to introduce a law that is more in the spirit of the new policy. Some local advocacy organisations have called for the new law to adopt the policy's community-based provisions, but drafts of the new legisla­tion are not reflective of the policy and maintain the strictly centralised and prescriptive regulatory approach of the twentieth century (PINGO's Forum et al. 2004). The draft act has alarmed pastoralist groups by proposing new pro­visions for protected 'corridors' and 'buffer zones' across village lands, while providing few new opportunities for the involvement of rural communities (PINGO's Forum et al. 2004).

As a remedial measure to proceed with the implementation of the Wildlife Policy and to support community-based initiatives already underway, the gov­ernment has produced regulations providing for the legal formation of WMAs. These regulations provide extensive stipulations for the creation and man­agement of WMAs and the allocation of rights and responsibilities in these new areas. The regulations define WMAs as areas on 'village land set aside for wildlife conservation', which will be designated and gazetted by the Min­ister (MNRT 2002: S. 2.2). The Ministry states that the purpose of WMAs is 'to enable the local communities living in villages to participate in the protec­tion and utilisation of wildlife resources on village land' (MNRT 2003: 1).

The WMA regulations provide extensive procedures, which communities must follow in the course of establishing WMAs. The village council and vil­lage assembly must determine what land is to be set aside in the WMA and designate it as such through land use planning and village by-laws. In order to manage fugitive resources such as wildlife in larger-scale units, villages may join together to form a WMA by creating a new supra-village institution, a so­called community-based organisation (CBO) which is essentially an NGO managed by the respective villages' representatives. This CBO must carry out a series of planning exercises, and subject their land use plans to an Environ­mental Impact Assessment. Once these steps have been completed, the CBO can apply to the Director of Wildlife for gazettement of the WMA and then for formal wildlife use rights. In terms of converting those wildlife use rights into income, the communities must pass through additional procedural re­quirements and receive approval from the Director of Wildlife for all com­mercial activities carried out in the WMA. In order for the communities to benefit from tourist hunting, the communities must also apply to the Director of Wildlife for a hunting block to be designated in their WMA. The Director then allocates that block to a hunting company, at which point the CBO may enter into an agreement with that company if it wishes; the CBO does not have a direct role in selecting the company that will hunt in its WMA.

A number of critical points emerge from an examination of the community management framework established by the WMA regulations. First, they are complex and bureaucratic and require rural communities to pass through an array of prerequisites in the course of forming WMAs (Baldus et al. 2004). The regulations' requirements, such as general management plan formulation and environmental impact assessments, include procedures which government has often lacked the will or capacity for carrying out in much larger state PAs. This complexity acts as a deterrent to involvement by rural communities, and can be interpreted as the state placing regulatory hurdles before local commu­nities so as to limit their ability to qualify for devolved management rights (cf. Ribot 2004).

Furthermore, the rights which communities are able to gain through the WMA regulations contain a limited degree of authority over wildlife on their lands. Hunting block allocation remains exclusively under the authority of the Wildlife Division. All investments in WMAs require Ministerial sanction, unlike at present when tourism enterprises in village lands are based only on agreement between the village and the private investor. The user rights to wildlife granted to the communities are short term and insecure, based only on 3-year agreements between the CBO and the Director of Wildlife. And per­haps most problematic of all from the local perspective, the sharing of reve­nues in the WMAs on village lands is not defined by the regulations. The WMA regulations state only that benefit sharing between government and the communities will be determined through administrative discretion by way of 'circulars issued by the government from time to time' (MNRT 2002: S. 73). This makes it difficult for villages to evaluate accurately the relative costs and benefits involved in the decision to implement WMAs on their lands.

The WMAs provided for by the WMA regulations contrast markedly from the devolutionary principles of the wildlife policy released over 4 years ear­lier. These regulations give communities forming WMAs a limited degree of authority over wildlife management decisions, insecure user rights and un­clear access to revenues produced in WMAs. The regulations also provide substantial bureaucratic hurdles to the formation of WMAs, which serves to inhibit their implementation. As a result, progress on WMA implementation has been slow (Baldus et al. 2004), and only four out of sixteen pilot areas were gazetted as WMAs as of mid-2006. [13]

In summary, the design of the WMA regulations, the content of the pro­posed new wildlife legislation, the management of tourist hunting conces­sions, and the continuation of PA expansions all indicate that rather than decentralising or devolving authority, Tanzania is undergoing a process of ex­panding central control for wildlife management. The result is the perpetua­

tion of the basic challenges facing wildlife management in rural areas-namely declining wildlife populations as a result of lack of local incentives to conserve the resource-and new conflicts occurring in some rural areas over village land and resource rights. The following section provides an analysis of the political economic interests and incentives that explain this gap between policy and practice.

   The Challenge of Reform: Towards a Political Economic Understanding of Wildlife Management in Tanzania Top

Wildlife's value and relative abundance makes it an important resource in contemporary Tanzania, both to the state in general and to a diverse set of ac­tors-including civil servants, hunting and tourism companies, rural villages, foreign donors, and conservation organisations. These actors have divergent interests in wildlife and its values, with some benefiting from the status quo and others largely marginalised, and they have different abilities to influence policy and management outcomes. It is the interests, incentives and relative powers of these different actors, set against the backdrop of historical legacies and governed by Tanzania's political institutions that account for the out­comes of wildlife management reform efforts that we have detailed above.

The story of wildlife management as one of expanding central control con­trasting with a reformist narrative reflects some basic institutional characteris­tics of the modern Tanzanian state. While the late 1980s and early 1990s marked a turning point in Tanzanian history in terms of abandoning single­party socialism for economic and political liberalisation, this narrative, gener­ally and with respect to the wildlife sector, obscures important developments during this period of change. In terms of the structure of Tanzania's economy, the state has divested itself of many parastatal companies and withdrawn from direct production in some areas. But the adoption of liberalisation reforms has always been tempered by the interests of elites to maintain central control over the country's key economic resources (Kiondo 1991). The maintenance of ownership of all land in the country in the hands of the President under Tanzania's reformed land tenure legislation is the most outstanding example of this tendency [14] (Sundet 1997; Shivji 1998). Cooksey (2003) describes how liberalisation narratives obscure realities of persistent central controls over important export crops. As with wildlife, mining has become a major source of foreign investment and government income. Mining concessions are under strict central jurisdiction, with various local conflicts emerging during the post-liberalisation period as a result of the allocation of mining rights to large­scale commercial interests (e.g. Lange 2006).

Even as the state has maintained control over the economy's core resources, the quality of governance of public resources has generally deteriorated as personalised and clientelist political relationships have expanded in the post­liberalisation period (Kelsall 2002). Although the period in the mid-1990s around the end of the Ali Hassan Mwinyi administration is generally consid­ered the time when corruption was most unfettered within Tanzania's public institutions (see Bigstein et al. 2001), the misappropriation of public resources remains widespread (Kaufmann et al. 2006). Increasing attention is paid to the deleterious impacts of governance and corruption on the country's economy in formal government policy dialogues (e.g. RAWG 2004; URT 2005a). [15] A recent government monitoring report finds that there are 'few real deterrents to corruption,' and 'weak accountability limits the impact of Tanzania's fight against corruption' (URT 2005b: xi). This report also notes that 'The econ­omy has been liberalised and the state no longer allocates economic goods. This lowers the opportunities for corruption' (URT 2005b: 35). But as has been noted this is not the case with valuable resources such as wildlife.

Governance and policy-making authority in Tanzania is concentrated in the hands of the executive branch and the dominant ruling party (Lawson and Rakner 2005). [16] The interests of this elite governing regime in wildlife are somewhat complex. Maintaining strict central control over wildlife may be economically advantageous in terms of direct flows to the Treasury, as well as in terms of maximising the individual patronage interests of some elites, and reflects the general tendencies of all Tanzanian post-independence govern­ments. However, a number of factors challenge this status quo. First, wildlife populations continue to decline. This represents a threat to the state's broad economic interests, as post-liberalisation governments have largely framed their objectives and performance in terms of their ability to deliver sustained macroeconomic growth. Second, central policy makers are under pressure from both rural constituents and foreign donors (who still support roughly 40% of the annual budget in Tanzania) to transfer more authority to lower levels of government. The central government has adopted the Wildlife Pol­icy's principles and specific targets in broader economic policies, most nota­bly the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty. [17] This overarching strategy calls for increasing local incomes from wildlife, forestry and fisheries management and increasing the ability of rural communities to benefit from the growing tourism industry (URT 2005a). In addition, while there may be a tendency for the state to want to maximise central revenues from, for example, hunting concessions, the government has in recent years implemented, often against the counsel of donors, a number measures which reduce central revenues in the name of social development and equity (Law­son and Rakner 2005). [18]

While the state's broad interests feature the tension between empowering local citizens and maintaining centralised control over natural resources, it is more narrow interests within the bureaucracy that largely determine how or if such objectives are pursued. The central actor in Tanzania wildlife manage­ment is, without question, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, and, more specifically, its Wildlife Division. The Wildlife Division is respon­sible for managing all the wildlife in the country except for those animals within the National Parks and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and has been the lead agency in most of the legal and policy development processes detailed herein, ranging from development of pilot projects to propagation of the Wildlife Policy. In terms of developing the policy and guiding the reform process during the 1990s, the Wildlife Division was undoubtedly motivated by factors including its own declining budgets, the elephant and rhino poaching crisis, and the need to enlist local participation in battling illegal hunting. For an agency facing these challenges, attracting foreign donor resources was critical, and this has been a central motivation for the Wildlife Division's support of wildlife sector reform efforts (see Baldus et al. 2003). While the pi­lot projects and the policy itself had a considerable amount of external influ­ence from donors and conservation NGOs, a certain amount of Wildlife Division buy-in and leadership was necessary.

At the same time as the wildlife policy was being developed, the Wildlife Division was presiding over a rapidly expanding tourist hunting industry. Di­rect revenues to the state from hunting concessions increased from about $1.5 million in 1989 to $10.5 million in 2001 (Baldus and Cauldwell 2004; Barnett and Patterson 2006). These revenues not only provided the government with operational revenues but also provided the basis for enhanced rent-seeking opportunities through a concession allocation process which is subject to little external oversight or accountability (Nshala 1999; Majamba 2001; Barnett and Patterson 2006). Central control of the hunting industry creates substan­tial disincentives for the Wildlife Division to transfer management powers to local institutions as called for by policy (Baldus and Cauldwell 2004). By contrast, the recent effort to extend greater control over non-consumptive tourism activities taking place on community lands can be viewed as an at­tempt to expand the Wildlife Division's jurisdiction and thus access to re­sources. Ultimately, the Wildlife Division has sought to balance countervailing incentives to, on the one hand, maintain strict central control over wildlife, but on the other to attract donor resources tied to enactment of devolutionary reforms. To date, the main purpose that the Wildlife Policy has served has been to attract external resources-by providing a reformist narra­tive, which can legitimise donor expenditures in the name of enhancing com­munity participation.

The role of foreign donors and NGOs has been central to the development of the wildlife sector reform agenda in Tanzania. The Wildlife Policy was av­idly championed, and funded, by a set of bilateral donors, such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the German De­velopment Agency (GTZ), and conservation organisations including the Afri­can Wildlife Foundation, World Wildlife Fund and Frankfurt Zoological Society. These foreign organisations provided resources in terms of funding and technical support throughout the policy development process, and con­tinue to be closely involved in funding the development and implementation of WMAs and revision of the WCA. When faced with resistance to imple­menting the Wildlife Policy, foreign donors and international conservation NGOs have not been effective in their efforts to influence further institutional reforms. GTZ, which was the key donor supporting many early community wildlife management initiatives has withdrawn from direct technical support to Tanzania's wildlife sector after nearly 20 years (see Baldus 2006). USAID, by contrast, continues to provide major support to the wildlife sector and to promote WMAs. For example, USAID's 2005 Tanzania budget contained a proposed $1.3 million for promoting CBNRM, which included 'support to WMAs as a high-yield CBNRM strategy,' in light of Tanzania's 'progressive environmental and NRM policy framework' (USAID, n.d.).

While the interests of donors and conservation NGOs ostensibly revolve around supporting the implementation of the key policy reforms intended to en­hance the environmental and economic benefits from the Tanzanian wildlife sec­tor, a number of other important incentives influence their behaviour. Foreign aid agencies have strong incentives to spend large amounts of money [19] and, in gen­eral, to continue pre-existing programmes rather than changing their activities due to the costs associated with such changes (Gibson et al. 2005). For donors to spend money, the host country approval of expenditures is required according to many bilateral partnership and project management agreements. Donors have in­stitutional disincentives to withholding project funds, even when objectives are not being met, or to radically changing their strategies and expenditure patterns due to both the costs involved, and the generally low level of domestic account­ability they face (Gibson et al. 2005).

For their part, international conservation NGOs generally have a strong inter­est in seeing reforms adopted but possess incentives to maintain positive rela­tions with state actors even if their interests are divergent or seemingly incompatible. Foreign conservation NGOs are dependent on host governments to approve their activities in the country, including through memoranda of under­standing at various levels of government, approval of work permits for expatriate staff, and disbursement of donor funds that comprise much of the operational re­sources of these organisations. These institutional relationships substantially re­duce the leverage that international conservation NGOs have for influencing contentious policy reforms. [20]

Although there is a widespread perception of foreign donors in Tanzania wielding considerable influence over policy formulation, a recent review finds that this perception 'does not appear to be substantiated by an analysis of land­mark budgetary decisions' (Lawson and Rakner 2005: 23). This latter finding is in accord with many contemporary analyses of African policy-making processes, which argue that reforms are largely contingent on the presence of domestic con­stituencies and leadership, and that 'donors cannot do very much to generate this' (Devarajan et al. 2001: 34; see also Collier 1997; Easterly 2001). The do­nors supporting Tanzania's wildlife sector have little capacity to force devolu­tionary change if there is not a strong domestic political reform movement, and the donors themselves have substantial disincentives to adapting or changing their funding patterns and strategies, at least in the short term. Ultimately, the structure of donor and NGO interests results in these actors having relatively lit­tle influence over the implementation of wildlife sector reforms, and limited in­centives to substantially alter their strategies. [21]

At least until recently, domestic constituencies have not played a major role in wildlife sector policy design and administration. Rural communities have a major interest in the outcomes of reforms, particularly in terms of being able to increase access to revenues from wildlife. Communities also have a strong interest in these issues because of the link between wildlife management and village land rights, and in particular the issue of control over tourist hunting concessions located on community lands (see Nshala 2002). But locals, and their elected representatives in Parliament, have had little effect on institu­tional developments related to wildlife management, and have limited access to information on these issues. In pursuing reform throughout the 1990s, do­nors and the government did not make significant efforts to create local civic constituencies for those reforms. Local communities have limited formal re­course in terms of influencing decisions made at higher levels of government. Parliamentary representatives have limited influence over Ministerial deci­sions because of the concentration of power in Tanzania's executive branch and the exercise of rigorous intra-party discipline in legislative votes and key decisions (Lawson and Rakner 2005). Citizens have little recourse to a judi­cial system that is regarded as weakly independent and frequently undermined by corruption (see RAWG 2003). Civil society organisations have in some in­stances supported community interests with respect to wildlife management issues (e.g. LHRC 2003; PINGOs Forum et al. 2004), but civil society and the media in Tanzania remain relatively weak, although this is gradually changing (Lawson and Rakner 2005; see also Kelsall 2002).

Although local communities have limited power with respect to national policy development, they do have greater ability to influence wildlife man­agement practices at the local level. For example, despite the recent state at­tempts to prevent local tourism ventures in hunting blocks, many of these ventures have continued, although some have not. Where they have persisted it is largely due to effective community action and lobbying to influence local administrative actions, for example by exerting organised political pressure on district officials and local law enforcement officers. Just as central anti­poaching laws have long proved unenforceable without local support, con­temporary state efforts to restrict village-level enterprises have been difficult to enforce. This local resistance has enabled some rural communities to con­tinue receiving benefits from wildlife and influencing struggles over local land uses, and in this sense, the financial benefits from wildlife flowing to lo­cals through private-community ventures have supported local interests (Nel­son and Ole Makko 2005).

Private sector actors in these processes fall on both sides of the cen­tral-local tension over control over wildlife. Hunting companies, which con­tract with the Wildlife Division for concession areas are generally not supportive of devolutionary reforms that will upset the status quo (Baldus and Cauldwell 2004). They view their security in terms of perpetuating the state's monopoly over wildlife, despite the apparent problems this creates in rural ar­eas with respect to local incentives and the sustainability of wildlife popula­tions. Tourism companies, by contrast, have been able to access new areas on community lands by directly contracting with villages and have little by way of institutional relationship with the wildlife authorities in these areas. They view their interests as being aligned with local communities, and those com­munities' land rights and resource claims, and risk being excluded by per­petuation of the hunting concession monopoly. Tourism companies are therefore much more supportive of reform measures, but as a largely expatri­ate community, have had limited influence on policy and have had significant collective action problems with respect to organising political advocacy on these issues.

The outcomes of Tanzanian wildlife policy reform efforts during the past two decades are thus a product of the cumulative interests, incentives and relative powers of the various key actors involved. These outcomes are heav­ily influenced by characteristics of the Tanzanian state, particularly the heavy concentration of power in executive agencies with few effective checks on that power from either legislative or judicial branches, and the general weak­ness of civic and media institutions. Particularly important in understanding the outcome of reform efforts are the incentives and powers of donors and conservation NGOs, and the resultant lack of influence that these actors, who were key proponents of reform, have had once central resistance emerged. While this may seem contrary to popular perceptions of international aid agencies and global NGOs as powerful actors in influencing conservation policies in poor countries (cf. Brockington and Igoe 2006), it is in accord with the growing contemporary literature on the relationship between development aid and national policy reform outcomes (e.g. Devarajan et al. 2001; Easterly 2001; Gibson et al. 2005).

The institutional and political challenges facing wildlife management in Tanzania reflect the experiences of many reform efforts throughout sub­Saharan Africa (Shackleton et al. 2002; Ribot 2003; Jones and Murphree 2004). In Cameroon, for example, efforts to reform and decentralise the finan­cially lucrative forestry sector exhibit similar contradictions, reversals, and underlying incentive problems as those we have described for Tanzanian wildlife (Ekoko 2000; Oyono 2004). Murphree (2002: 1-2) provides the fol­lowing summary of community-based conservation efforts in Africa:

'…most initiatives lacked the critical ingredient for success: the devo­lution of authority and responsibility through societally sanctioned en­titlements. Government and agency implementation retained ultimate power to shape objectives and control benefits; 'involvement' became compliance and 'participation' became co-option. Robust devolution requires significant allocative transfers in access and power, which politico-bureaucratic establishments are reluctant to surrender. Thus many of these initiatives have become case studies in aborted devolu­tion' (Muphree 2001:1-2).

Problems of 'aborted devolution' are not confined to sub-Saharan Africa. Sundar (2000: 257) sounds a similar note with respect to India's joint forest management programme: 'community management initiatives have tended to be like desert mirages-false images of an oasis of civil society, quickly cov­ered by the shifting sands of the state.' Agrawal and Ostrom (2001) review four programmes in India and Nepal which decentralise varying degrees of authority for forest management to local community institutions. In examining both the conditions that enable decentralised decision making to emerge and those which make it effective at the local level, they find that reforms are of­ten launched as a result of donor pressure, but only sustained where local ac­tors are able to mobilise to exert pressure on policy processes (Agrawal and Ostrom 2001: 507-509). Where foreign donors and state agencies have re­mained the key actors in reform efforts in these two countries, devolution has been constrained and less successful (Agrawal and Ostrom 2001).

Indeed, the challenge of institutional reform is a pervasive constraint on CBNRM efforts globally. Ribot (2004: 3) concludes that 'insufficient and in­appropriate powers turn most decentralisation reforms into charades'. There are several important outcomes of these impasses. Because community-based management efforts are fundamentally constrained from emerging in a viable manner, conservation continues to rely on state PAs, with other actors and in­stitutions unable to contribute. At the same time, local communities remain excluded from key resource management processes and decisions, and the in­tegration of rural livelihoods and biodiversity conservation remains rhetori­cally espoused but practically elusive. Such outcomes impact on both economic development and biodiversity conservation objectives.

   Conclusion Top

Important lessons for the involvement of local communities in natural re­source management and conservation emerge from the Tanzanian experience. Wildlife management has been dominated by increasing central control and regulation since the beginning of the colonial period. During the colonial era this was a component of European expropriation of the African resource base and served foreign conservation interests. After independence, foreign finan­cial influence, national economic concerns, and a governing system of single­party socialism led to the perpetuation and reinforcement of a heavily central­ised wildlife management framework. By the 1990s, as a result of an array of external influences and internal pressures, a reform agenda emerged that called for the transfer of authority for wildlife management to the local level. But these reforms have encountered considerable obstacles from entrenched institutional interests in wildlife resources on the part of state agents. Rather than devolving power, wildlife management trends since the late 1990s reflect the continued expansion of PAs and consolidation of central control over wildlife and land in rural areas. Reform is largely restricted to the rhetoric of policy statements designed to attract donor support and appease local con­cerns. Donor agencies and international conservation organisations have been the main influences behind the development of the reform agenda, but have their own institutional limitations and disincentives to developing adaptive and potentially more effective strategies for promoting institutional change.

The fundamental barriers to wildlife management reform in Tanzania thus lie in the historical legacy of centralisation, the resultant institutional incen­tives within the bureaucracy for maintaining control over a valuable resource, and the relative lack of influence of other actors on policy processes in Tan­zania's current political environment. These factors not only explain the divergence between policy and practice in Tanzania, but also reflect funda­mental institutional challenges facing CBNRM efforts throughout the tropics.

Based on this analysis, there is a growing need for conservation scholars and practitioners to review the narratives and organisational models for pro­moting more meaningful local involvement in wildlife management at a time when there is a perceived backlash against community-based approaches (Ri­bot 2004; Hutton et al. 2005). In particular, efforts to promote community­based management should place greater emphasis on supporting local con­stituencies and bottom-up reform processes. Tanzania's experiences suggest that CBNRM is only likely to emerge in a durable way when there are strong and sustained local and national organisations which can drive reform proc­esses according to their own agendas (Murphree 2000; Agrawal and Ostrom 2001). Civil society capacity and influence on policy formulation in Tanzania is limited but growing, and its future development will depend less on exter­nal support than on the dynamics of broader democratisation processes in the country. The next generation of wildlife management reform efforts in Tanza­nia will need to place greater emphasis on these local interests and actors and ways to connect them to broader processes of political change, if more sus­tainable conservation practices are to emerge.


Helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper were made by Dan Brocking­ton, Mike Jones, Andrew Williams, and two anonymous reviewers. Fred Nel­son would like to acknowledge support from the Sand County Foundation Community Based Conservation Network and the Bradley Fund for the Envi­ronment, as well as additional support from the Frederick A. and Barbara M. Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise and the International Institute at the University of Michigan.[93]

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