Stories of Resilience from 2020

Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer
African People & Wildlife
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Elephant plays in Tarangire National Park.
Laly Lichtenfeld/African People & Wildlife

Finding beauty in a broken world is creating beauty in the world we find.

Terry Tempest Williams

This year has challenged each and every one of us, often in ways we never thought possible. But 2020 has also shown us the power of nature’s resilience and the strength of the human spirit. When we join forces, lift each other up, and fight onward with determination together, we can achieve amazing things – even in the most difficult times.

Please read on to discover some of African People & Wildlife’s most inspiring stories of resilience from 2020.

Naserian attends a training for new beekeepers in the community of Oldonyo. “I’m so glad our group was among those invited to join the Women’s Beekeeping Initiative this year!” she says. “Through this project, I expect to reach my goals – supporting my family, paying for my children’s education, and achieving self-reliance.”
Janeth Edward/African People & Wildlife

African Women Rising

Many powerful female voices emerged from our conservation landscapes this year. With help from our valued supporters, 25 new women’s groups joined the Women’s Beekeeping Initiative, bringing our total to 102 groups! Today, more than 1,500 enterprising women across northern Tanzania are improving their livelihoods, gaining respect at home and in the community, and protecting the natural world they depend on. And their hard work is paying off: This year was the initiative’s most productive so far, with more than 4.5 tons of wildlife-friendly honey harvested!

After facing several roadblocks due to the pandemic, the Women’s Enterprise Center – an entrepreneurial hub created by and for female beekeepers in the district of Simanjiro – will be opening its doors soon. Stay tuned for an announcement about the official opening!

A detail from the exterior of the Women’s Enterprise Center features the logo for Mama Asali (“Mama Honey” in Swahili), our brand of premium, wildlife-friendly honey.
Samson Beah/African People & Wildlife

In recognition of the challenges facing many Black people around the world, APW program officer Catherine Nchimbi authored a blog post reflecting on her experiences as a Black African woman in conservation – and calling upon others to join her. This fall, two young Tanzanian women did just that. African People & Wildlife was excited to welcome our inaugural Women in Conservation interns, Janeth Edward and Fatuma Alex. While Fatuma is helping to streamline our operations, Janeth is working to capture photos, videos, and stories from the field. Through this new program, Janeth and Fatuma are the first of many Tanzanian female interns we will empower to become professionals and leaders in the conservation field.

THRIVING ON COMMUNAL LANDS The lion population is growing in the Tarangire ecosystem, largely due to reduced conflict with people and improved attitudes toward coexistence. “I talk with my community about how we can come together to create long-lasting solutions for living with wildlife,” says Elihuruma Lothi, an APW Warrior for Wildlife. “Because I've created a lot of trust within my community, I see a bright future for big cats in this landscape.” © Laly Lichtenfeld/African People & Wildlife

Lions Roar Back

As Covid-19 brought tourism to a halt and threatened local livelihoods this year, lions and other wildlife in our conservation landscapes faced increased threats. Our supporters rose to the challenge: Thanks to the incredible response to our World Lion Day campaign, we were able to significantly increase our annual installations of Living Walls to more than 250! Our Living Walls are an integral part of improving human-wildlife coexistence in Tanzania. Following the campaign, we directed a special shipment of chain-link fencing to West Kilimanjaro, where lions are particularly at risk. As powerful conservation ambassadors, our Warriors for Wildlife have been working hard to protect prides in this landscape. Through several major interventions, their work saved the lives of 11 lions – including several cubs – in West Kilimanjaro this year!

In the Tarangire ecosystem, the lion population once facing extinction is now thriving. We spotted many lions repeatedly spending about half their time on communal lands – safely. And a young male named Lala – collared last year through our partnership with the Tarangire Lion Project – and his “brothers” (Alalahe and Rucus) were spotted with cubs for the first time, solidifying their status as pride males.

Throughout the year, our Warriors for Wildlife recorded 163 observations of lion presence across our conservation landscapes!

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LION SIGHTINGS Some of our teams’ many lion observations this year include:

  1. several young lions in the Randilen Wildlife Management Area
  2. tracks of a large pride in West Kilimanjaro
  3. Ndito, a beautiful female cub whose pride lives in the Maasai Steppe
  4. a young male named Lala (in the distance) and his companion with cubs in the Tarangire ecosystem
A community rangeland monitor records pasture quality measurements using a mobile device. The data is shared in real-time via a cloud-based server, putting critical conservation information into the community’s hands.
Neovitus Sianga/African People & Wildlife

Innovating Together

This year, we expanded our use of cutting-edge technology in new and innovative ways. Not only are more community members employing real-time mobile technologies to visualize and use data that impact their lives, but the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority continued the early adoption of our data-driven approach to sustainable rangeland management. This collaboration among government authorities and local people is essential to preserving Tanzania’s incredible landscapes and biodiversity for future generations.

In July, African People & Wildlife was excited to receive the prestigious Special Achievement in GIS Award at Esri’s 2020 User Conference. Chosen from over 100,000 eligible candidates, our team was honored for our innovative application of mapping and analytics technology as well as our thought leadership in the field of conservation.

To further innovation at the local level, we are laying the groundwork for new “conservation hubs” in two communities. These collaborative spaces will bring technology and practice together to help foster greater knowledge sharing and new discoveries. We will be sharing updates on this exciting project in early 2021!

A community member removes an invasive plant known as Devil’s Snare. This fall, the African People & Wildlife team worked with four communities to begin invasive species removal projects – a critical step in ensuring the health of local rangelands. Evidence of invasive plants is recorded and analyzed using real-time mobile technologies.
Felipe Rodriguez/African People & Wildlife
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CAUGHT ON CAMERA Our motion-triggered cameras, or “camera traps,” provide valuable data to our team about the presence and movements of critical species in our core conservation landscape. Recordings this year included:

  1. a herd of elephants
  2. a curious leopard
  3. a majestic kudu
  4. a hungry giraffe
  5. lionesses on the prowl
  6. a growing warthog family

A Wild Resurgence

Throughout the pandemic, our continued efforts to uplift local livelihoods, promote coexistence, and conserve vital rangelands have allowed local wildlife populations to flourish in our core landscape. During twice-monthly wildlife counts, our team observed 16,894 individual wild animals across 25 species. In addition, our motion-triggered cameras captured a significant increase in key species over the previous three years.

Chart of motion-triggered camera observations showing increases for elephants, leopards, and lion from 2017 to 2020.
African People & Wildlife

We were also excited to see the locally-endangered fringe-eared oryx grazing in communal pastures once again this year – the result of our efforts to regenerate vital grasslands and fight bushmeat poaching in partnership with local people.

The work of an APW-supported community game scout team contributes to our conservation success in the Tarangire ecosystem. In October, the scouts joined 50 ranger teams across Africa through the Wildlife Ranger Challenge, raising critical funds to support Africa’s rangers during the pandemic. We will be expanding the team soon!

Our incredible achievements this year in the face of Covid-19 would not have been possible without our dedicated and growing community of supporters and partners. Thank you! We boldly look toward 2021 with renewed determination and great hope for Africa’s people and wildlife.

Mother and baby cheetah.
Laly Lichtenfeld/African People & Wildlife