BUFFERING THE CORE
Surrounding the fortress, we have various other classifications of protected areas consisting of a so-called ‘buffer zone’, which forms a softer boundary between the parks and human populations and unregulated activities that take place outside the protected areas. There are some hard boundaries, predominantly on the western sides of the ecosystem and some parties have suggested a hard border in these areas in the form of a fence to reduce human-wildlife conflict and incursions into the core fortress.
The protected areas fall into various categories and under various management authorities, which in itself is an issue as each management body operates independently and often in isolation from each other, with different aims, different interests, and different mandates. There is no overall governing body that oversees decisions made across the ecosystem landscape. There are some advisory bodies trying to amalgamate and unify the various parties’ strategies and management practices, and hopefully, some sense will prevail in this.
In Tanzania, we have a mix of buffer zone types: ‘game reserves’, ‘game controlled areas’, ‘wildlife management areas’, and a ‘conservation area’.
Maswa, Grumeti, and Ikorongo game reserves allow wildlife tourism and licensed hunting enterprises under controlled and allocated quotas within their boundaries, but still no permanent human habitation. These game reserves are allocated on a tender process to interested parties usually on a five-year cycle, although if enough investment is made into the area and the country, this time period can be longer. The game reserves are controlled by the central government via the Wildlife Division and the company or organisation that wins the tender is able to manage the area under the division’s rules.
Meanwhile, the Loliondo Game Controlled Area on the north-eastern side of Serengeti National Park allows settlement, cultivation (including large-scale mechanised agriculture), pastoralism, and wildlife tourism and licensed hunting. Licensed hunting again falls under the auspices of the Wildlife Division. The concession holder, local government and the community all variously govern tourism and other activities, including settlements. Unfortunately, Loliondo has a number of overlapping and contradicting laws and as such, there is contention between interested parties that has resulted in some major issues between the government, the community, the concession holder, and other investors.