In the early morning hours of July 22, a pack of poachers on four motorbikes attempted to invade Manyara Ranch.

Fortunately, head Honeyguide ranger trainer, John Magembe, received a tip-off about the raid at the 35,000-acre conservancy, which is primarily supported by the African Wildlife Foundation.

Some 25 minutes later, Magembe and several Manyara Ranch rangers spotted and pursued a poacher weaving through the wooded savannah on his motorbike just after dawn. The culprit soon enough wiped out into a whistling acacia tree. He was unharmed but put into custody and later turned over to the Tanzanian police.

Unfortunately, though, the young man had already killed a male zebra and a male eland. Magembe also suspects that there were up to 3 other motorbikes and potentially 6 other poachers who escaped before the team’s arrival. Besides the bike, the team confiscated 3 knives, 2 machetes, 2 spears, and the trophies and bushmeat.

Lower level poachers often use cheap motorbikes, known locally as bodaboda, to access wilderness areas, to provide easy getaways, and sometimes even to directly hunt down the wild animals themselves. The bodaboda’s high utility for poachers illustrates how cheap technology and growing infrastructure, while needed and positive overall, also create new challenges for wildlife protection. But there are always people ready to meet such challenges head on.

“It has been quiet for some time at Manyara Ranch,” said Magembe. “We always have a presence here, though, and make patrols every day. We’re always ready and on call.”

Honeyguide’s partner on the initiative, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), has been working for more than a decade to restore Manyara Ranch, previously a cattle ranch, to a prime wildlife area and corridor in the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem. Wildlife diversity found at Manyara Ranch is vast, and wildlife numbers have been booming in recent years.

Furthermore, since Honeyguide began wildlife protection operations in Manyara Ranch in August 2013, exactly zero elephants have been killed there, while some 6 were reported to have been killed between January and July 2013 and up to 15 reported killed over 2012.

Partnering closely with Big Life Foundation in Kenya, Honeyguide leads a diverse range of initiatives in six other community-based conservation areas throughout northern Tanzania.

Poached eland just outside of Manyara Ranch

Eland with spear puncture wounds