Honeyguide focuses on elevating and strengthening the protection of wildlife and their habitats. We assist in guiding, training, equipping, and incentivizing more than 100 village game scouts and officers across 6 project sites covering more than 1.3 million acres of wilderness. Efforts of these VGS teams and their communities must also be coordinated with government agencies to ensure long-term outcomes and positive impact at the national level.
Anti-Poaching Success in Enduimet
When Honeyguide first started supporting anti-poaching teams in West Kilimanjaro in 2011, some 25 elephants were being killed for their tusks per year within the Enduimet Wildlife Management Area. Over the past three years (2013-2015), ZERO elephants have been poached in Enduimet. Honeyguide gives all the credit to the intrepid rangers of Enduimet, who, with technical support, proper equipment, and guidance, effectively shut down serious trophy poaching in the area. It’s a model and an effort we now aim to replicate throughout Tanzania.
“I have worked my entire life in wilderness areas trying to protect the animals and work well with people,” said John Magembe, Honeyguide’s head trainer and anti-poaching commander. “It is what motivates me every day.”
Kilimanjaro Foot Patrol
They trek through Kilimanjaro’s forests and the thick bush of the surrounding savannah. They trek if it is raining. They trek in the scorching heat. They trek so that they might find and capture poachers and other criminals. They are the hardy Kilimanjaro Foot Patrol Unit, a seven-ranger team that walks on regular patrols in the Enduimet Wildlife Management Area, focusing on those areas inaccessible to vehicles. For years, the idea of such patrol was discussed with WMA leaders and other partners. Due to both the rugged terrain and the vast size of Enduimet WMA and Mount Kilimanjaro, many protection gaps exist throughout the ecosystem.
At the Head of the Line
“We go in the areas where no one else can and where poachers might hide,” said Elvis Meshilieki, commander of the Foot Patrol Unit.
Elvis and the Kilimanjaro Foot Patrol average 10-15 kilometers a day, but have trekked up to 35 kilometers when called upon. Their efforts have quickly translated into results, including the arrests of poachers, dismantling of snares, and recovery of hidden ivory on the mountain.
“We hope to receive more training and better equipment so we can increase our efforts even more,” said Meshilieki. “The forests and animals of Kilimanjaro should be better protected.”
Tracker Dog Unit
Honeyguide established the Tracker Dog Unit in October 2011 to provide operational assistance to the multiple anti-poaching teams we support. Since then, the dog duo has helped lead countless anti-poaching operations in northern Tanzania, leading to arrests nearly every month. The unit is now so popular that Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), the Wildlife Division, the police and other agencies have requested the assistance of Rocky and Jerry and other dogs. The canine teams have led successful joint operations with both community and government ranger teams in nine national parks and community-based conservation areas across northern Tanzania, leading to major arrests of poachers and confiscation of ivory, bush meat, weapons and other illicit items.
A Dog’s Best Friend
Honeyguides dog handlers receive elite training and always have the consummate support of the best in veterinary and conservation services. But it is their deep love for the dogs themselves that ensures their constant care and guidance. Men like Kayongo Kalasinga (head of the West Kilimanjaro and Tarangire-Manyara units) and Emmanuel Laizer (head of the Serengeti unit) embody the title of dog’s best friend, and thus a poacher’s worst enemy.
A strategy not informed by data and intelligence is no strategy at all. Honeyguide has adopted SMART conservation software and other innovative monitoring tools to help improve the performance of rangers in the field day in, day out. Using mobile technology, these rangers record key data on incidents, wildlife, their patrol movements, and much more. Honeyguide aims at having SMART rolled out in all six areas that it supports, so that a full landscape strategy can be implemented and data can be shared among partners.
On Thursday 16th of October Athuman Mohamed Honeyguide’s Operation Commander, received a phone call from a Tingatinga community member. They said that there was a baby elephant found wandering alone in Mabona. Immediately and without
Rocky can sniff and track down a poacher practically from the hills of West Kilimanjaro to the back alleys of Dar-es-Salaam.
Enter Jerry, always on standby to leap into action in hot pursuit of the scent trail.