Classic, Conservation | Tanzania

A Tanzanian odyssey: The impact of Chem Chem

When I first visited Chem Chem Safari Lodge in 2012, it was the only accommodation in the then relatively new Burunge Wildlife Management Area, a concession linking Tarangire National Park via the Kwakuchinga wildlife corridor with Lake Manyara.

I was hosted by ex-financier Fabia Bausch and met her partner wildlife guide Nicolas Negre, who together set up Chem Chem-Burunge (2007) in partnership with the local community to restore and protect the wildlife corridor and in doing so empower that same community through the provision of jobs, education, and access to health facilities. A conversation model consisting of Chem Chem Safaris and the not-for-profit Chem Chem Association, it has proved itself enormously successful, transforming land once dogged by poaching, logging and overgrazing into one capable of supporting a diverse and large number of residential and migratory animals.

A central part of the model has been the establishment of a Chem Chem tourist concession, one that is designed to contribute to the aims of Chem Chem-Burunge. Since I first visited now over a decade ago, the destination has grown from the original lodge to include Little Chem Chem, and Forest Chem Chem. Today, our connection with Chem Chem isn’t limited to organising client stays in one or more of these really excellent properties. Our not-for-profit Wild Philanthropy partners with Chem Chem Association, introducing donor travellers to the organisation and helping raise funds for its efforts.

The task of ensuring that a conservation model such as Chem Chem-Birunge benefits all, all of the time, and equally is a long and hard road to travel. Poaching, logging for charcoal, and overgrazing all remain issues today, and the position of different villages with regard to the wildlife corridor means that some are much more affected by human-animal conflict problems than others. However, the good work continues, as Chem Chem-Burunge’s most recent impact report shows, which I’ll leave for you to dive into at your leisure. Before I do, however, some highlights, all testament to the work Chem Chem Association has done, and indeed to the support of its donor-partner-stakeholder community.

Chem Chem - Tanzania

A whirlwind year

It’s been, says Abella Mutalemwa, CAA’s Communications and Donor Relations Manager, a ‘whirlwind year’, which is reflected in the fact that the report ‘documents two fantastic three-year projects that will see the securing of the corridor and strengthening of our anti-poaching efforts, as well as embark on a journey of equipping communities with entrepreneurial skills that will see them own sustainable small businesses’.

empowering youth

Equally, to help empower young people in the Kwakuchinja corridor, Chem Chem Association will embark on a five-year project to build a youth education centre that will provide over 600 youth members between the ages of 18-25 with ICT and entrepreneurial skills, while also educating them on sexual reproductive health measure. As the association’s Community Project Manager Nganashe Luckumay says, nurturing and empowering youth in the Kwkakuchinja corridor is vital, the young being ‘future custodians of this ecosystem.’ In empowering the young, so ‘they can lift themselves and their families out of poverty’.

building capacity

Finally, 2023 will continue, says Mutalemwa, to focus on strengthening anti-poaching efforts through building capacity for the joint anti-poaching patrol team to work more efficiently and effectively. Diversifying into a science-led operations, she says, is critical in streamlining and coordinating efforts on the ground. In this respect, capacity building, as the association’s Antipoaching Commander Hamis Chamkulu says, for the anti-paoching team is critical to ensuring the sustainability of this corridor and its habitat’.

So, this is just a taster. Do have a look at the report. It gives a really good idea of everything the association’s doing. Once you have, you’ll have noted the significance not only of the money generated by travel, but also of the support from the donor community. If you are in the position to help through philanthropic donations, then donate here. If you are interested in travelling to Chem Chem, please get in touch. I’d be only too happy to help.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Travel ideas, conservation stories and the latest from our exploration team