Conservation and Society 14(3): 218-231, 2016
In recent decades, fortress conservation and central government
control have been accompanied by policies and legislation that
put communities in focus for conserving natural resources in
the Global South (Roe et al. 2009). Much has been written
about community-based approaches to conservation (Agrawal
and Gibson 1999; Songorwa et al. 2000; Balint 2006; Ribot
et al. 2006; Nelson 2007; Dressler et al. 2010), illustrating
all too well the need for continued critical observation and
concern. A number of labels for community-based conservation
(CBC) schemes have been promoted in the context of wildlife
conservation, such as community wildlife managament
(CWM) (Balint 2007), CBC (Goldman 2003) or community-
based natural resource management (CBNRM) (Nelson and
Agrawal 2008). All these schemes are typically dened as
systems of resource governance, whereby the rules for resource
allocation and management are primarily set by communities
themselves (Li 2005: 435).
CBC schemes are uncritically hailed by proponents
from government and non-government sectors alike to be
participatory and widely benecial, despite the difculties
of evaluating the impact of what is often framed as ‘success‘
(Blaikie 2006), with little evidence of the actual workings of
participation on the ground (Lund et al. 2009). Despite the
overabundance of win-win rhetoric in development policy
circles and lack of evidence to support it, scholars believe
Austere Conservation: Understanding Conicts over Resource Governance in
Tanzanian Wildlife Management Areas
Jevgeniy Bluwsteina,#, Francis Moyob, and Rose Peter Kicheleric
aDepartment of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
bInstitute of International Forestry and Forest Products, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany
cDepartment of Wildlife Management, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania
#Corresponding author. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
We explore how the regime of rules over access to land, natural, and nancial resources reects the degree of
community ownership of a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Tanzania. Being discursively associated with
participatory and decentralised approaches to natural resource management, WMA policies have the ambition to
promote the empowerment of communities to decide over rules that govern access to land and resources. Our purpose
is to empirically examine the spaces for popular participation in decision-making over rules of management created
by WMA policies: that is, in what sense of the word are WMAs actually community-based? We do this by studying
conicts over the regime of rules over access to land and resources. Analytically, we focus on actors, their rights
and meaningful powers to exert control over resource management, and on accountability relationships amongst
the actors. Our ndings suggest that WMAs foster very limited ownership, participation and collective action at the
community level, because WMA governance follows an austere logic of centralized control over key resources. Thus,
we suggest that it is difcult to argue that WMAs are community-owned conservation initiatives until a genuinely
devolved and more exible conservation model is implemented to give space for popular participation in rule-making.
Keywords: CBNRM, WMA, Tanzania, management plan, participation, accountability, governance, conict,
community-based conservation, decentralised management, wildlife management
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Understanding Resource Conicts in Tanzanian WMAs / 219
in the virtues of participatory policies if: a) a wide range
of information is available to local communities to enable
informed decision making (Arnstein 1969; Parkins and
Mitchell 2005; Fernandez-Gimenez et al. 2008; Turnhout
et al. 2010); b) meaningful powers to manage resources are
actually devolved to democratically elected local bodies that
are downwardly accountable to their electorate (Smoke 2003;
Ribot 2001, 2004); and c) substantial benets can be generated
and captured by the communities to improve their well-being
(Homewood et al. 2012).
Tanzanian Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) represent
such a policy for community-based wildlife conservation that
is hailed to be participatory and community-owned (WWF
2014; AWF n.d.), because WMAs seem to constitute a break
with past, more centralised and exclusion-based approaches,
i.e., fortress conservation (Brockington 2002). Critical voices
see them as non-participatory, overly focused on conservation,
and neoliberal in the sense of expanding the territories and
resources that can be commoditised with little attention to local
concerns and rural development (Goldman 2003; Igoe and
Croucher 2007; Benjaminsen and Svarstad 2010; Benjaminsen
et al. 2013). The literature on the politics of participation is
typically inspired by a rich set of critical perspectives on
participation (Ribot 1999; Cooke and Kothari 2001; Hickey
and Mohan 2005; Cornwall 2008), continuously offering
critique pertaining to community-conservation relations in
Northern Tanzania (Benjaminsen and Svarstad, 2010; Goldman
2011; Mariki 2013; Loveless 2014) and potential ways to move
beyond the critique (Goldman and Milliary 2014). With this
article, we wish to explicitly examine an often overlooked,
albeit a core assumption of WMAs. That is, in what sense their
governance fosters or at least allows for popular participation
in decision-making over rules that regulate access to land,
natural and nancial resources.
Studying CBC through the regime of rules and
Little attention has been paid to the regime of management
rules and regulations that constitute a key element for
community-based interventions and shape a project’s success
or failure. Scholars who look at management rules and
regulations typically ask whether they are adhered to, what
are the effects of lack of adherence, and how can compliance
with rules and regulations be ensured (Keane et al. 2011,
2012; Nielsen and Meilby 2013). However, the question of
legitimacy of the regime of rules and regulations is rarely
addressed.1 We wish to contribute to the debates on CBC
by explicitly looking at the operational regime of rules and
regulations over access to land and resources. Building on
previous work done by others who studied the initiation
of WMAs (Igoe and Croucher 2007; Trench et al. 2009;
Benjaminsen et al. 2013; Loveless 2014), our hypothesis
is that processes of broad-based participation and devolved
community-led rule-making and implementation are largely
absent in operational WMAs, partly because these projects
lacked genuine community involvement in the phase of
establishment. Empirically, we direct our attention to conicts
over access to land and resources, and examine how tensions
over rule-making and compliance are dealt with and resolved
by different actors. We focus on conflicts because they
are indicators of a lack of popular consent to a regime of
conservation rules, and can reveal dominant power relations
and the workings of politics of participation on the ground.
We ground our research interest in political ecology
(Robbins 2004) and propose to build an understanding of
WMA governance by looking at the rules that govern rights,
responsibilities, and powers over access to material and
nancial resources, and how these rules are made. Having
the perspective of a WMA community in mind, we ask if
the rules can be changed by WMA villages to accommodate
local needs and conditions. We discuss the policy-driven
architecture for WMA governance by identifying key
actors pertaining to communal access to land and natural
resources, and to tourism-generated revenues from hunting
and safari activities on village land. Throughout our analysis
we follow Agrawal and Ribot (1999) in assessing how rules
governing access to land, resources and tourism-based
revenues in WMAs distribute decision-making powers to
different actors and how these actors are tied into relations of
accountability. We study the distribution of powers to make
decisions in community-based interventions by focusing on
the degree of popular participation in rule-making. To do
this, we see the need to examine the relationship between
the WMA villages and the community-based organisation
(CBO), because WMAs are primarily managed at the
supra-village level by (CBO, also refered to as ‘Authorised
Association’ in the context of WMAs). Therefore, we are
interested in understanding what powers are assigned to
the CBO—the managing body comprised of elected village
representatives—and what powers are further devolved to
village councils. With this, we are able to assess the degree
of decentralisation, and to what extent decentralisation
policies distribute ‘meaningful powers’ over resources
to WMA governance bodies that are held accountable by
their constituencies. When accountability relations force
authorities to respond downwardly to its constituency,
decentralisation takes democratic traits (Ribot et al. 2010).
When local governments are mainly upwardly accountable
to higher authorities, it resembles an extension of central
government’s control into rural areas (Ribot 2004, following
Rondinelli 1981) or in other words recentralisation (Ribot
et al. 2006). In our exploration of WMA governance at the
village level we look at how exible the rules are and what
it takes to change them. If certain rules cannot be changed,
we look at patterns of conict as an indicator for lack of
genuine community participation in rule-making.
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220 / Bluwstein et al.
METHODOLOGY AND CASE DESCRIPTION
We use empirical data collected from a eld study in Burunge
WMA in Northern Tanzania. We rely on a review of relevant
policy documents and on qualitative data compiled through
observation (in two village assemblies, three CBO meetings,
and one meeting of Village Game Scouts), semi-structured
and unstructured interviews with agro-pastoralists and
farmers (individually and in focus groups, >100 interviews),
village and traditional leaders (>40 interviews), members
and employees of the CBO (13 interviews), Village Game
Scouts (individually and in focus groups, 23 interviews),
district ofcers (ve interviews), ministry representatives (four
interviews and continuous email exchange), conservation NGO
representatives (four interviews), investors (two interviews),
and Protected Area authorities (one interview with three
Tanzanian National Park Authority representatives). Data
were collected in all Burunge WMA villages, in Babati town
(District centre), in Arusha (Regional centre) and in Dar es
Salaam (location of the Ministry of Natural Resources and
Tourism). The eld work was conducted from January to
May 2014, and in February, May, and November 2015 by the
authors—either in parallel at different locations or jointly.
We deal with highly sensitive and contentious issues of
land ownership, local conicts, and criminalized access to
conservation territories. To build reliable narratives of events
and conicts we triangulated (Nightingale 2003) by talking to
actors across all levels of WMA governance and local politics,
and we used high-resolution satellite images (Google Earth) to
gain a better understanding of different land uses and spatial
relations in the area. Triangulation techniques do not always
yield consistent accounts, and can produce discrepancies and
incompatibilities between different sets of data (Nightingale
2003). This dissonance, however, is telling in multiple ways,
and can inform about local interests and what is at stake for
different actors, making social conicts and the politics of
conservation visible. To elicit historical events we asked the
same questions to different research participants until we did
not receive new information. To reduce the various biases
inherent in the study of conicts, we put great stress on building
trust with our interlocutors, being transparent in our research
questions, asking for informed consent to be interviewed,
an option to opt out at any time, and ensuring anonymity.
Nonetheless, mutual trust does not prevent us from being ‘used’
by our informants in what they often referred to as a political
game that the ‘others’ are playing, a game that one can hardly
observe without being drawn into.
We also recognise that by relying on qualitative methods in
the eld we lack a number of other techniques that could shed
a different light. Our research design and methodology does
not include environmental evidence that could inform a study
of conicts over access to land and resources in juxtaposition
with claims to environmental stewardship or degradation
(e.g., Brockington and Homewood 2001; Benjaminsen 2008).
We interacted mostly with members of village governments
and other more ‘visible’ community members, and we probably
have not spent enough time in the villages that we study to
be able to fully observe the daily workings of local politics.
In this article we discuss WMA governance at large, despite
drawing from one case study only. Every WMA is different as
is every village. This makes any generalisation problematic,
yet not impossible (Flyvbjerg 2006). We try to overcome
the problem of generalisation of ethnographic qualitative
research ndings by using a conceptual framework that can
be equally applied to most localities and contexts. Further,
our case was not selected randomly. Rather—following
Flyvbjerg (2006)—we selected it purposefully as a case: a)
that stands out, being one of the rst operational Tanzanian
WMAs and attracting more tourism investment than most
other WMAs in the country; and is b) with internal variation,
being arguably one of the most heterogeneous WMAs in
terms of the mix of ethnicities and languages, livelihoods
and land use practices.
Case study area
Burunge WMA is located in Babati district in Northern
Tanzania, around 190 km from Kilimanjaro international
airport, the main entry point for international tourists visiting
the Tanzanian northern circuit (Figure 1). Burunge WMA was
established in 2003 and registered in 2006 with a total area
of 280 sq. km (WWF 2014). The WMA initially comprised
of ve villages with a total population of around 22,000
individuals (2002 national census). Between 2004 and 2009,
the ve villages split into ten (Figure 2) and the population
increased to around 34,000 in 2012 (2012 Babati District
Council Population and Housing Census).
Although Burunge WMA is located within a world-famous
network of well-established protected areas that generate
signicant revenue for the safari industry and the Tanzanian
state, Burunge villages cannot capture tourism revenue unless
the tourists stay overnight in Burunge WMA lodges, go on
a photo-safari, or hunt game in the WMA. The revenues
from Burunge WMA-based tourism amounted to TZS 412
million (around USD 248,000) in 2014, after taxation by
central and district governments. Assuming a population of
36,000 people in 2014 in Burunge villages based on the past
population growth, around USD 7 per person per year are
made available for the communities after taxation in 2014.
Yet, only half of the sum is distributed to the villages for social
development projects; the other half remains with the WMA
ofce for administrative purposes, conservation activities and
a development reserve (Homewood et al. 2015).
Agriculture and livestock husbandry continue to be the
main livelihood activities, with farmland and livestock herds
constituting most important household assets and two pillars
of the local economy. The extent of agricultural activities
in Burunge villages is shown in Figure 2. Burunge villages,
except Manyara village, are accessible by all-weather roads.
Primary schools and mobile phone networks are present in
each village, health centres are easily accessible for many, and
in 2015, efforts to connect the area to the national electrical
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Understanding Resource Conicts in Tanzanian WMAs / 221
grid have been launched. Access to water remains a challenge
Past conservation efforts squeezed the local population
between a network of various types of protected areas. Burunge
WMA is located within the Tarangire-Manyara Ecosystem
(TME), that also encompasses Tarangire National Park
(gazetted in 1970), Lake Manyara National Park (gazetted
in 1960), Manyara Ranch (since 2000, operated by African
Wildlife Foundation), and a newly established Randileni WMA
(gazetted in 2012, to replace the Lolkisale Game Controlled
Area, not mapped here) (Figure 1). From a conservationist
point of view the priorities are to maintain the ecological
integrity of the entire ecosystem by protecting wildlife
corridors, enabling wildlife to safely migrate across borders
within TME (Goldman 2009; Jones et al. 2009; Kikoti 2009).
ANALYSING RESOURCE GOVERNANCE IN
WMAS: RIGHTS, POWERS, AND RELATIONS OF
WMA policy aims to establish restrictions on local land use
and access to natural resources in return for a share of tourism
revenues that are generated on village lands under a WMA
regime of rules and regulations. Therefore, taking a community
perspective we discuss the kind of changes the WMA policy
brings at the village level in terms of local people’s ability
to access communal lands for cultivation, livestock grazing,
collection of natural resources (rewood, timber, non-timber
forest products, poles, thatch, bushmeat, water, etc.), and
their ability to benet from tourism-based revenues generated
through hunting and safari activities.
Evolution of central government control over tourism
activities on village lands
Under the Wildlife Conservation Act of 1974—long before
the WMA era—the central government of Tanzania has
reconsolidated state control over wildlife resources in
post-independent Tanzania, developing a vibrant tourist hunting
industry and liberalising it to private investments in the 1980s
(Nelson et al. 2007). This led to a growth of tourism activities
on village lands. Hunting outtters received hunting block
concessions from the central government to bring in tourists
to shoot game in Game Controlled Areas (GCAs) that often
overlapped with village lands, while tour operators established
direct investment contracts with village governments to conduct
non-consumptive activities (e.g., photo safari) and to facilitate
tourist camping and lodging on village lands.
While no restrictions on human activities were imposed
from central authorities on village lands inside and outside of
GCAs, the Director of Wildlife, under the Ministry of Natural
Resources and Tourism (MNRT) had the power to allocate a
hunting block on village land in a GCA without local consent,
to allocate a hunting concession to an outtter, and to collect the
fees and revenues, channelling back only 25% to the District
that would share a small and unspecied amount with the
village government (Nelson et al. 2007). Communities were
dependent on the goodwill of hunting outtters to support
‘community development’ as required through Tourist Hunting
Regulations in 2000. The presence of hunting outtters on
village land could entail restrictions to local access to land
and natural resources during the hunting season, and some
concessions granted exclusive access to the outtters (Snyder
and Sulle 2011).
Burunge WMA in the regional context
Note: GIS shapeles provided by TANAPA, TAWIRI, WWF, and WDPA.
Illustration by Jevgeniy Bluwstein
Villages of Burunge WMA
Note: Some village boundaries are not ofcial and might change in local
negotiations, estimated to our best knowledge based on eld presence
and corroborated with preliminary maps from Babati District, Village
Land Use Plans, GIS shapeles (WWF, National Bureau of Statistics)
and Google Earth satellite images. Agricultural area is mapped based on
2014 GIS shapeles (Honeyguide Foundation). Burunge WMA is divided
into three zones: General Use Zone (GUZ), Corridor Use Zone (CUZ),
Hunting Use Zone (HUZ). Illustration by Jevgeniy Bluwstein
222 / Bluwstein et al.
The Ministry had no role to play in non-consumptive
tourism on village land. The village governments could
enter into direct negotiations with tour operators and lodging
investors, negotiating a shared land-use regime that could entail
self-imposed restrictions on access to land and resources to
secure an attractive safari experience for visitors, and keep all
the revenues (Nelson et al. 2007; Schroeder 2008; Sachedina
and Nelson 2010). Obviously, communities would prefer
self-negotiated non-consumptive tourism activities on their
village land as opposed to having to host non-accountable
hunting outtters. The Ministry, however, beneted from
tourist hunting nancially, and had little interest in seeing
the villages interfere with hunting activities by hosting
tourism safaris through direct contracts with safari operators
(Snyder and Sulle 2011). The growing competition between
consumptive and non-consumptive tourism activities within
hunting blocks on village land has led the central government
to pass a number of reforms to regulate in favour of tourist
hunting, banning any kind of tourism activities within a hunting
block without the approval of the Director of Wildlife, and
introducing new fees on all tourism activities (URT 2000,
2008; Nelson 2011; Snyder and Sulle 2011).
The evolution of wildlife conservation and tourism reforms
was paralleled by deliberations over a comprehensive policy
for devolved and community-based wildlife conservation.
Eventually it was implemented under the Wildlife Regulations
of 2002 (URT 2002), stipulating how WMAs can be established
on village lands. Until today, Tanzania’s WMA policy has
undergone signicant changes and is presently codied in
form of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2009 (URT 2009) and
the Wildlife Regulations 2012 (URT 2012). In what follows,
we outline what has changed for communities’ access to their
lands and resources, and how their relationships vis-à-vis
tourist hunting outtters and safari tour operators have been
affected by WMA policies.
What powers over community-based wildlife
conservation are vested in the CBO?
When villages set aside a part of village land to be gazetted
as a Wildlife Management Area, the WMA is created as a
continuous piece of land spanning across village borders. In
the process of WMA establishment, participating villages have
to elect village representatives who form a supra-village CBO.
The CBO has the right to apply for ‘user rights to wildlife’ at
the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. In case of a
successful application, the CBO can use the newly acquired
powers to attract private investors to establish wildlife-based
tourism activities (hunting and/or safari), and it can also apply
for a resident hunting quota on behalf of the WMA villages,
allowing–albeit very limited–access to legal bushmeat for local
communities. While it is still up to the Director of Wildlife
to allocate a hunting block even inside WMA territory, the
Wildlife Regulations of 2012 give the CBO the right to decide
upon whether a hunting block should be established or not,
and CBO members are involved in negotiations with potential
investors. Ultimately the village who hosts a WMA investor has
to approve of the contract between the CBO and the investor.
The CBO is in charge of the preparation of a General
Management Plan (GMP) that governs local access to land
and natural resources on WMA territory as well as tourist
operators’ conduct and access to WMA-based village lands.
This empowers the CBO to manage the WMA on behalf of the
participating communities pertaining to local access to land and
use of all natural resources, both inside and outside of a WMA
hunting block. Hence, powers to make decisions over local
access are recentralised away from the village councils up to
the CBO pertaining to village lands that are outside of a hunting
block and are set aside for a WMA. However, when a hunting
block is operated on village land, powers partly shift from the
central government to the CBO with the implementation of a
WMA. In order to understand whether this shift enables more
or less attention to residents’ needs and concerns, it is important
to study the relationships between the communities, their CBO
and the investor. We will return to this later.
The CBO is also entitled to a share of tourism-based revenues
that are generated within WMA territories. Depending on the
nature of revenues (consumptive and non-consumptive) and
fees, different revenue sharing formulae apply, as specied
by the law for hunting (URT 2009, 2012), and suggested
but still unspecied (Nelson et al. 2007, URT 2008) for
non-consumptive utilisation. A share is allocated to the
government, the district and the CBO. As of 2012, the CBO
receives 75% of the hunting block fees (25% go to the central
government) and 65 % of non-consumptive revenues. Due to a
number of additional taxation mechanisms on hunting-related
fees, the revenues from hunting to the CBO are reduced to
roughly 60%. The CBO is entitled to keep whatever amount
is negotiated between the CBO and the investor above the
The CBO is also encouraged to retain roughly half of
the taxed WMA revenues for administration, conservation
and other activities, and to distribute the other half to the
participating villages (URT 2012), who manage their share
independently, typically investing the funds into public
development projects and education. Although it is not
regulated how the revenues should be distributed among
the villages, the CBOs typically allocate equal amounts
‘as an easy answer to a difcult question’ (former WWF
Tanzania employee, pers. comm. 2014) instead of putting it
up for debate amongst the communities within the process of
deliberations over the WMA rules. It creates or fuels conicts
amongst communities and the CBO, when a wildlife-rich
village hosts a lodge and is persuaded to join other villages
to establish a WMA, and subsequently to share tourism
revenues with villages that might have much less wildlife and
no tourism. These wildlife-poor villages are often more than
willing to join and receive tourism-based revenues that are
generated elsewhere (Trench et al. 2009; Benjaminsen et al.
2013; Green and Adams 2014).
Understanding Resource Conicts in Tanzanian WMAs / 223
What powers remain with the central government?
The Director of Wildlife retains its powers to authorise key
proposals put forward by the CBO, such as the allocation of a
hunting block within a WMA, the choice of tourism investors,
the stipulations within the General Management Plan, that is
regulating local people’s access to village lands inside the
WMA, and the collection and distribution of tourism-based
revenues on WMA territory.
In 2014, the decision by the former Minister for Natural
Resources and Tourism has freed several tour operators in
three WMAs from paying entry and motor vehicle fees for
tourists staying in WMA lodges in a move that by-passed
the parliament (Letter by the Minister of Natural Resources
and Tourism to Tanzania Association of Tour Operators,
22.12.2014), effectively reducing WMA revenues from tourist
visitors from USD 25 to USD 15 per person. This incident is
telling in multiple ways: it demonstrates the bargaining power
of tour operators who negotiate tourist fees directly with the
Ministry (member of Tanzania Association of Tour Operators,
pers. comm. 2015), while the villages have no say; it shows
the power of the Ministry to decide and inuence how much
WMA villages will be able to generate from WMA-based
tourism; and it invites patronage and rent-seeking (Nelson and
Agrawal 2008; Benjaminsen et al. 2013).
Furthermore, correspondence from Burunge CBO to the
Wildlife Division shows that the latter distributes a part of
collected revenues to the CBO erratically, with delays and often
without a way to trace back the payments to the respective
investors and tourism activities, making the revenue generation
and distribution non-transparent (Benjaminsen and Bryceson
2012; WWF 2014). This does not allow the CBO to effectively
hold the Wildlife Division to account, and it makes adequate
nancial planning difcult at the CBO and village level.
Perhaps most important and far-reaching is the continuous
state ownership of all wildlife in Tanzania (URT 2009),
allowing the CBO–on behalf of the Wildlife Division–to retain
user rights over wildlife on village land and to manage and
benet from wildlife utilisation for tourism activities, even
if the village leaves the WMA (URT 2012, section 34(6)),
creating tensions and ambiguities with the Village Land Act No.
5 (URT 1999, section 8). The Village Land Act gives Tanzanian
village governments the right to use, administer and manage
village land—land that is owned by the state—on behalf of
the village assembly, i.e., all adult members of the village. In
case a WMA village withdraws from the WMA, all decisions
about the use of village land, that are considered by the Wildlife
Division to be of importance to wildlife conservation, remain
with the CBO (representative of Wildlife Division, and District
Game Ofcer of Babati district pers. comm. 2014). Should
the CBO cease to operate in the unlikely case that all villages
of a WMA decide to dissolve the WMA and succeed in doing
so, the user rights to wildlife over former WMA land return
to the Wildlife Division, which then decides whether to ‘give’
back this land to the village or to use it for hunting tourism
(representative of Wildlife Division, and District Game Ofcer
of Babati district pers. comm. 2014). In the case of the latter,
the village would not be allowed to utilise its own land, nor
benet from any generated fees or revenues from hunting
tourism. While this is not clearly regulated, it has been used by
Babati District Game Ofcer and Wildlife Division as a threat
to Burunge WMA villagers. Should villages withdraw from
the WMA, their village land set aside for the WMA would be
converted into a Game Controlled Area, we were told, which
would render this land a protected area without rights to any
human activities according to Wildlife Conservation Act 2009
(URT 2009, section 20(1),(c) and section 21(1)). This threat
has no legal substance (Edward Lekaita pers. comm. 2016) but
can exert political power when central and district government
‘experts’ use it against villagers with little knowledge of the
law, and most importantly little access to independent legal
representation to claim their rights. Similarly, WMA villages
and the CBOs seem not to know that the CBO user rights
cannot be automatically renewed by the Director of Wildlife,
if there have been changes to the General Management Plan. In
order to pull out from a WMA, a village would have to change
its own village land-use plan and announce it to the CBO and
the Director of Wildlife. This would force the Wildlife Division
to review the WMA status after ve years (Edward Lekaita
pers. comm. 2016). Because villages do not know their legal
rights, nor are they appropriately informed about WMA laws
by District authorities or the Wildlife Division, no village has
yet managed to pull out of a WMA in Tanzania.
Instead, the confusion about WMA laws and villagers’
rights can be used as an opportunity for conservationists and
investors to engage with villages that cannot simply pull out
from the WMA if residents change their minds about what
they are willing to invest in or sacrice for conservation. The
stabilising effect of being under the WMA framework can
create incentives for organisations that represent conservation
interests to convince or, if necessary, coerce villages to
join a WMA as a strategy to put more village land under a
conservation regime without an option for reversal.
Accountability relations matter
The apparent lack of downward accountability of the CBO
to the villages has already been criticised by others (Shivji
2002; Nelson 2007; Humphries 2013). The CBO does not
need to be responsive to communities’ requests to change the
rules, however it can ask the village governments for support
in enforcing rules that are decided upon elsewhere. Due to
the top-down revenue collection the villages cannot hold the
CBO accountable in terms of how revenues are generated
and collected, because this responsibility is with the Wildlife
Division, not the CBO. Similarly, the CBO is following central
government regulations and guidelines on how to allocate the
money, leaving little room for manoeuvre to meet villagers’
The Local Government Act (URT 1982) gives the village
assembly, i.e., the villagers, the power to elect and remove
the village chairman or village council members. However,
224 / Bluwstein et al.
in the context of WMA-based tourism villagers can only
complain about investors’ conduct, but they cannot make an
investor leave, as the contract is signed between the CBO and
the investor. The most important mechanism to hold the CBO
downwardly accountable to the villagers is the power granted
to villagers to elect and remove CBO representatives. While
this right can be easily exercised in practice, the establishment
of a supra-village CBO does not promote the empowerment
of existing village government organs (Shivji 2002; Ribot
2004; Nelson 2007) and weakens accountability links that
are already available, because the CBO is spatially further
detached from the villagers than the village government that
resides in the village ofce. For most villages, a CBO has
its headquarters hours, if not a day trip away, depending on
distance, terrain, means of available transport, and season.
Burunge villagers are arguably least affected by this, having
a tarmac road cutting through the region, but for communities
in more remotely located WMAs this is a serious burden and
barrier to access their CBO (e.g., Lake Natron, Makame, the
WMAs in the Selous-Niassa Corridor in Southern Tanzania).
With the recentralisation of resource management from the
village ofce up to the CBO, negotiations over access to some
of the resources are also recentralised to the CBO level away
from village committees, such as livestock grazing, collection
of rewood, thatch, or medicinal plants. The bargaining power
of villagers also diminishes if people from several villages have
to lobby the CBO through village representatives instead of
attending village assemblies where demands can be expressed
directly to an elected village council.
We conclude that the CBO is upwardly accountable to the
Wildlife Division, that makes state policy and regulations,
gives authority to the CBO to manage the WMA, and can take
this authority away. Given the strong relations of accountability
between the CBO and the Wildlife Division, CBO’s downward
accountability to the communities is relatively weakened.
That is to say, it does not matter much who will be elected
to represent the villagers at the CBO, if CBO’s powers
to do what the villagers like it to do are limited by state
policy and regulations that give the Director of Wildlife key
decision-making powers in community-based natural resource
management. At the same time, the CBO holds the villagers
accountable to the rules over access, and it can enforce many
of these rules through force or nancial sanctioning. Hence,
WMA villages are trapped into relations of accountability
that make it difcult to leverage political power to change
rules that govern rural livelihoods in their communities. In
other words, there is no ‘balance of powers’ (Oyono 2004)
to effectively hold community representatives (i.e., CBO
members) accountable at the village level.
BURUNGE WMA: GOVERNANCE THROUGH
COERCION AND LEGAL STRUGGLES
In the following section we review some of the evidence
in support of our analysis of WMA governance through
the case of Burunge WMA. We focus empirically on local
struggles over powers to change rules and the consequences
of an ostensibly centralised management regime. Where it
is necessary to ensure protection from possible reprisals, we
anonymise the communities.
Creating a conservation regime of rules and regulations
As mentioned already, the CBO is in charge of land-use
planning for village land inside a WMA. Depending on the
zonation in accordance with the General Management Plan,
WMA villagers can have access to pastures for livestock
grazing, and to fuelwood and non-timber forest products,
while cutting timber, making charcoal, farming or establishing
permanent settlement structures is always prohibited in any
WMA. Every WMA has to come up with its own regime
of rules over access to land and natural resources. A GMP
provides—at least in theory—the basis for developing and
managing a WMA. Through an environmental resource
assessment of the WMA, natural resources are to be valuated,
challenges and goals to be identied, and solutions to be
proposed. A core element of the management plan is the
spatial dividing of a WMA into different resource zones that
are assigned respective restrictions and allowable uses. We
compile the various activities in Table 1 for Burunge WMA,
showing how access to land, natural resources and tourist
activities is spatially contingent. According to Kaswamila
(2006) no biophysical or socio-economic data were actually
collected for the preparation of the initial management plan
in 2005, nor where there any set criteria for zoning. The
current GMP (JUHIBU 2011) is based on largely unchanged
assumptions and planning. The Corridor Use Zone is situated
on village lands of Minjingu and Vilima Vitatu and connects the
western and eastern parts of the WMA, acting as an ecological
link between Lake Manyara National Park and Tarangire
National Park (cf. Figure 2). The General Use Zone spans the
villages Olasiti, Minjingu, Vilima Vitatu, Maweni, Magara and
Manyara, acting as a buffer zone for Lake Manyara National
Burunge WMA zone-based regime of allowable and prohibited
Activity CUZ* GUZ^HUZ+
Dry re wood collection A†A P‡
Tree felling (poles for house
P P P
Collecting Non-Timber Forest Products A A P
Charcoal burning P P P
Livestock grazing P A P
Agriculture P P P
Permanent settlements P P P
Temporary settlements PA P
Tourist hunting P P A
Photo safari/game viewing A A A
Local hunting PA P
Entry without permit A A P
Compiled based on Burunge General Management Plan 2010-2020 (JUHIBU
2011) and eldwork. *Corridor Use Zone, ^General Use Zone, +Hunting Use
Zone, †Allowable and ‡Prohibited
Understanding Resource Conicts in Tanzanian WMAs / 225
Park and hosting two tourist lodges, located in Minjingu and
Vilima Vitatu, respectively (cf. Figure 2). The Hunting Use
Zone spans the villages Kakoi, Vilima Vitatu, Ngolei, Mwada
and Sangaiwe, acting as a buffer zone for Tarangire NP, hosting
Burunge’s hunting block and three tourist lodges (cf. Figure 2).
Further, access to the west shore of Lake Burunge is prohibited
to villagers, hosting a tourist lodge in Mwada.
Our eldwork suggests that Burunge’s regime of rules over
access to land and natural resources is overly restrictive for
many. How were these rules made? Formally, WMA policy
and regulations put the responsibility to design access-specic
rules in the hands of the CBO that should do it on behalf of the
villagers. The policy is clear on the participation aspect here,
it encourages participation of all and the village assembly has
to sign off decisions pertaining to land use planning and the
choice of investor. By unpacking the rhetoric of participation,
we are looking at the distribution of powers in rule-making
to qualify what it means when everyone is ‘participating’,
and who holds meaningful powers in what is framed as
decentralisation. We follow Agrawal and Ribot (1999) in order
to focus on different types of powers for our analysis—powers
to make or change rules and regulations, and powers to enforce
Before becoming a WMA village, a village land-use plan
needs to be prepared. Village land-use plans are in theory
decided at the village level, being regulated through a set of
Tanzanian laws (cf. ILC 2013), enabling all those who would
normally attend village meetings to participate. Most likely,
less than half of the adult population attends village meetings
in communities that we studied for this article. Kaswamila and
Songorwa (2009) report that 21% and 43% of adults (above
18) participated in village land-use planning in Burunge WMA
villages of Vilima Vitatu and Sangaiwe, respectively. The
authors further add that most of the active participants were
‘district ofcials and ward/village leaders’. This counteracts
claims of popular participation, and often the plans are actually
done by ‘experts’ without involving the villagers (Goldman
2003; ILC 2013; Bluwstein and Lund, in review). We argue
that this is due to what we call a ‘conservation bias’ which can
override local needs and conditions, and is built into WMA
governance from the outset on through the logic of wildlife
corridors as the basis for a WMA, and the obligatory assistance
of the District Game Ofcer and a conservation NGO in the
establishment of a WMA.
Because a WMA is by default a continuous piece of land
cutting across several villages to constitute a wildlife corridor
or a buffer zone for a protected area, options for village
land-use planning and WMA land allocation are restricted,
since the goal is to establish a block of land instead of
discontinuous patches. In addition, as soon as a part of village
land is surrendered to the WMA through an approval in the
village assembly, the power to make rules for ‘how’ to use
this particular piece of village land is also surrendered to a
group of actors—CBO members, District Natural Resources
Advisory Board with the District Game Ofcer acting as a
secretary, consultants and NGO facilitators—who prepare a
WMA-wide GMP. Although District ofcers and the NGO
have an advisory role of facilitators, and are merely supposed
to bring together stakeholders at the negotiation table, in the
case of Burunge WMA the District Game Ofcer and the
facilitating NGO, AWF, did have a substantial impact on
decisions over the establishment of Burunge WMA and WMA
land-use planning (Igoe and Croucher 2007; Sachedina 2011).
Villagers were misinformed and manipulated–including claims
of forgery–to accept the WMA without informed consent (Baha
and Chachage 2007; Igoe and Croucher 2007; Interviews
by authors). The District Game Officer was allegedly
demarcating parts of village lands for WMA without informing
anyone, creating confusion, and sawing seeds for future land
conicts (interviews with anonymous). Sachedina (2008,
2011) offers a convincing ethnographic account on AWF’s
role in conservation projects across the Tarangire-Manyara
Ecosystem, being the primary organisation in the region
in pursuit of community-based conservation that is not so
community-friendly (also see Goldman 2011; Goldman et al.
2013; Benjaminsen et al. 2013). The inuence of the facilitators
in the decision-making process over rules for conservation
management explains why villagers have little to no access to
natural resources such as dry-season pastures and non-timber
forest products, despite the fact that the CBO is in a position to
grant access to these resources without the central government
watching over it. In an environment of imposed conservation
‘expertise’ the NGO and the District Game Ofcer appear to
act in unison, as perceived by a village ofcial:
AWF and other conservation organisations all go to
District level rst and share same ideas and beliefs.
So District Game Ofcer might sometimes represent
conservation NGOs perspective. NGOs always
come together with the District Game Ofcer, they
coordinate their activities. The District Game Ofcer
is the advisor to wildlife management. NGOs and
District Game Ofcer say the same things, so they
must accept each other’s positions. (interview with
a member of village government in Olasiti, 2014)
The CBO is the only actor with an assigned budget for
rule enforcement and monitoring. Ofcial rules are enforced
through village game scouts or private investor guards (on
investor’s concession), and by relying on traditional leaders
and village governments. As another instrument for rule
enforcement, the CBO might threaten to withhold some of
the revenues to a particular village, if the village WMA is
not well maintained. This is not explicitly regulated, but
expressing threats has been a common practice in Burunge
WMA. Some of management plan rules, so far, only exist
on paper. For instance, temporal limits to grazing (carrying
capacity) and other livelihood activities are arbitrarily dened,
yet not implemented. Access to land for livestock grazing in
the General Use Zone is allowed according to the management
plan but is insecure, because a tourist lodge operator claims
much of that area and uses his guards to harass and police
the residents. The residents never agreed to the establishment
226 / Bluwstein et al.
of the WMA and won a legal case against the CBO and the
village government, but efforts to evict the people continue
to this day. Farming restrictions on Burunge WMA land in
the villages Manyara, Magara, and Maweni are not policed
by CBO’s village game scouts for various reasons, including
the challenge to patrol wetland areas and contesting claims to
CBO’s powers to change arrangements in response to
conicts are often constrained by higher levels of government,
poor understanding of the land laws or simply reluctance to
listen to WMA communities.
This is a complicated process. The village would have
to request to change boundaries at the Authorised
Association [i.e., the CBO], the Authorised
Association would have to ask the District and the
Wildlife Division. Burunge WMA does not accept
such requests, because villages would keep asking
for more and more changes. (interview with former
member of Burunge CBO, 2015).
Having a conservation NGO and the District Game Ofcer
as facilitators and watchmen further reduces incentives to listen
to demands from below.
Although we have village representatives [at the CBO],
they are not well educated and not well aware of legal
issues, so the District and Wildlife Division impose
their own will on WMA. Authorised Association [i.e.,
the CBO] members are sometimes tricked by District
and other authorities by being taken to seminars and
treated nicely. Authorised Association members feel
obliged to accept whatever is told them. They forget
that they should be representing the villagers. Only few
Authorised Association members are strong enough to
keep representing the village needs. (interview with
member of Olasiti village government, 2014)
Community struggles over access to grazing land
One of Burunge’s villages used to be part of another village
until about ve years ago, when it separated and became
independent. The newly created village had to be sensitised
by the District Game Ofcer anew to be persuaded to join
Burunge WMA. With the attained independence, all grazing
land set aside during the WMA establishment remained with
the old village. To complicate matters, the new village is
located next to and overlaps with the WMA hunting block,
an area that has been traditionally used by livestock keepers
from adjacent communities for dry season grazing. In 2013,
the hunting block has been taken over by a new investor who
does not offer any hunting tourism, but uses the concession
for non-consumptive (safari) activities throughout the year.
Until recently, livestock keepers from the new village believed
that the village leadership gave away their land to the WMA,
while the leadership sees itself as being lured into accepting the
WMA, not being fully informed about the challenges during
the sensitisation process (interview with former member of
village government, 2015).
Not having enough land for dry season grazing, pastoralists
from this and other Burunge villages continue to bring
livestock into banned WMA territory (the hunting block), even
though they are facing punishment from Burunge village game
scouts and private investor guards who can hand them over to
the CBO and the police. Private investor guards might seize
their livestock and either leave it unattended for predators or
push it across the border to Tarangire National Park in order to
criminalise the herders in the eyes of the Tanzanian National
Park Authority (TANAPA). “They [investor and village game
scouts] deny us to graze on our land [WMA], they attack our
children and push our livestock to Tarangire [National Park]
to be eaten by lions.” (interview with female villager, 2014).
People are generally more afraid to be caught by private
investor guards who are sourced from different parts of the
region unlike the village game scouts who have to be local
villagers, which promotes restraint on the side of village game
scouts and fosters confrontation on the side of private guards.
Yet, it is not merely a conict over rules that are contested by
livestock keepers when they knowingly risk severe punishment
by entering the hunting block. Underlying is a conict over
land ownership. The investment contract gives the investor the
right to use the area exclusively and throughout the year. In
fact, the investor advertises the territory as a ‘private wildlife
concession’ offering luxurious tourism on around 35 sq. km
(estimation using Google Earth; for comparison: village land
area of the adjacent community is ~ 33 sq. km) for ‘only 10
guests’, who can ‘blend into the wilderness’ (Chemchemsafari
2015). These claims to exclusive land ownership and nature that
is untouched by human use are contested by pastoralists from
adjacent WMA communities on the grounds that the land does
not belong to the investor. “It is very shameful that we have
to write a letter to apply for grazing land to a French guy [the
Investor], we are like guests in our own land.” (interview with
member of local pastoralist association, 2014). The fact that a
previous arrangement was preferred by the local communities
even though the contract was made between other parties,
shows that some arrangements are accepted and others are not.
As long as access to ‘our land’ is granted, the question of land
ownership can rest. Yet, it will erupt as soon as access is taken
away. This is also evident from conicts with a previous investor
who operated in the hunting block before Burunge WMA was
launched (Igoe and Croucher 2007). Back in 2005, villagers from
all adjacent villages called for the replacement of the investor
with someone who would cooperate with local communities in
land-sharing (Ihucha 2005). Apparently not much changed until
recently, as the conict intensied under the WMA regime, this
time with a different investor and hard-edged front lines. Already
back then, the Babati District Game Ofcer sided with the old
investor (Igoe and Croucher 2007), and he does so again with
the current investor, this time supported by the Burunge CBO.
The village leaders perceive the CBO, not the investor,
to have decision-making powers over the area that is used
Understanding Resource Conicts in Tanzanian WMAs / 227
by the investor; they blame the CBO, not the investor, for
having negotiated an arrangement that is disadvantageous to
the communities’ access to land for dry season grazing. This
is further supported by the fact, that according to the contract
between the CBO, the investor ‘agrees’ not to allow livestock
in the hunting block throughout the year. In addition to grazing
restrictions, people living close to the hunting block are cut
off from access to dry rewood and construction materials
(poles and thatch). Being too far from alternative areas that
allow access, villagers see themselves forced to enter the
hunting block illegally, risking nes and excessive punishment.
Members of the new village keep requesting to change the rules
of access to the hunting block to ease the situation ever since the
new investor took over the hunting block in 2013. Their pleas
have been rejected by the CBO. To the contrary, ve village
leaders were imprisoned and sued in court for trespassing
and herding livestock in the hunting block (Criminal Case
182/2014, Resident’s Magistrate Court of Manyara). The fact
that the investor is not the land ‘owner’ as wrongfully stated
in the court documents, but only an investor on village land,
does not allow him to sue villagers in a ‘criminal offence’ for
trespassing through village land (Edward Lekaita pers. comm.
2016). Likely for that reason the charges were eventually
dropped (Defendants and lawyer pers. comm. 2015).
As of 2015, after a series of violent confrontations between
local herders and the investor’s guards, the investor realised
that insisting on exclusive access to the hunting block will only
produce more conicts with local communities. Therefore, the
investor is changing the strategy towards more negotiations and
room for concessions (Bluwstein, in preparation). Remarkably,
it was not the CBO leadership but the investor who realised
that only negotiations can solve the hard-edged conicts with
When conservation competes with rice cultivation
The two communities next to Lake Manyara became
independent years ago. After secession from an old village
(at the time of WMA establishment) parts of WMA land in
these new villages were taken for rice cultivation by local
farmers and shermen, non-resident land owners, and amongst
others, district ofcials. In addition, some villagers established
settlements inside the WMA. Both communities are dependent
on agriculture and have little wildlife to offer, which does not
make the villages interesting for tourism. The two communities
surrendered a relatively small part of village land to the
WMA, subsequently beneting from WMA revenues that
are generated in other villages. The CBO did not succeed in
enforcing the rules given the terrain (wetlands), and the fact,
that some of the farmers are district ofcials. “I am just a mouse
against the elephants” (member of village government, 2015).
“The VEO2 cannot stop his bosses from farming on WMA
land” (member of Village Natural Resource Council, 2015).
In July 2014, the CBO decided to stop paying both villages
parts of their share of WMA revenues, putting pressure on
the villages. One of the villages asked the CBO to change the
WMA boundaries to release the land that is used for settlements
from being part of WMA, because they cannot resettle people
without force and they lack village funds to compensate them.
Both village governments are also trying to clear the WMA
from farming, but feel powerless to make its villagers follow
WMA rules and the CBO cannot effectively enforce them.
People keep coming back to cultivate rice, that is simply more
attractive to many, while the WMA revenues provide indirect
benets that cannot compete with a cash crop. The CBO insists
on compliance with WMA rules, disregards requests to change
the boundaries and cuts off the revenues.
Local struggles over autonomy in dealing with tourism
According to virtually all respondents across all Burunge
villages, one of the villages was forced to join Burunge WMA
through manipulation and forgery of ofcial documents (pers.
comm. with the implicated individual, 2014, also see Igoe and
Croucher 2007). This village is not interested in being part
of a conservation model that redistributes tourism revenues
from villages that are rich in wildlife to villages without any
wildlife. Because the CBO and the District Game Ofcer insist
that all communities joined the WMA voluntarily, the village
is not allowed to directly collect revenues from a lodge that
operates on its WMA territory. The village government refuses
to accept its accumulated WMA share of almost USD 70,000
since 2006-2007 as a form of protest against being part of the
WMA, arguing that they do not need the WMA to conserve
wildlife; the community has been doing it for years before the
WMA was established, having had a village land-use plan that
includes a conservation area. The village wants to leave the
WMA and to reinstate a direct contract with the tourist lodge
that was forced by Burunge CBO to pay the WMA instead
of the village. The following statement attests to the widely
perceived injustice of imposed equal benet sharing. “Imagine
you have hundred cows, your neighbour has one, he asks you
to enter into joint venture with him and share milk equally,
will you accept?” (interview with member of Ngoley village
The Wildlife Regulations of 2012 (URT 2012) make the
District Natural Resource Advisory Board an arbitrator to
resolve WMA conicts, rendering impartial conict resolution
impossible if members of the Board (such as the District
Game Ofcer) are part of the very conict they are supposed
to help resolving. This is exactly the case in this village.
Leaving a WMA is effectively impossible and the avenue for
conict resolution at the WMA level is blocked through the
involvement a District Game Ofcer who was, by all accounts,
the mastermind behind the coercive inclusion of the village into
the WMA over 10 years ago. Having exhausted all political
options for conict resolution, the village government went to
court to sue the CBO for the foregone revenues, demanding to
be paid out what was directly agreed with the investor in 2006
228 / Bluwstein et al.
(more than USD 300,000 by the end of 2015, own estimation).
As of July 2016, the court has ruled in favour of this village,
potentially creating a legal precedent for other WMA villages
across Tanzania interested in pulling out of a WMA.
‘If this is a community project, then who is the
The question was raised by a Kakoi villager in a conversation
about Burunge WMA. It reects a general discontent with the
WMA. The various conicts and perceived injustices have
led to a number of violent incidents in Burunge WMA in the
past few years. Local people were incited to destroy WMA
infrastructure. Several village game scouts have been beaten
up by a group of Barabaig residents when a Barabaig woman
was apprehended by a WMA village game scout for cutting a
tree inside the WMA. During the dry season in 2014, Warusha
residents collectively decided to enter the hunting block with
their livestock and their spears seeking direct confrontation
with the security forces, which led to an injured guard of
the hunting block operator. Several legal cases have been
pursued by WMA actors and village governments to safeguard
the territorial integrity of Burunge WMA against its own
residents. Many of the people whom we talked to and who
are not afliated with the CBO, insisted that CBO members
either do not represent them, or are powerless to do what their
constituencies expects them to do. “These people become part
of CBO once they are elected. They stop caring about us, they
only think about their stomachs” (Member of Kakoi village
government, interview 2014).
We can barely recognise the participating villages when
we look for the ‘C’ in CBNRM or CBC, rather it seems to us
that at best it is the CBO that is the actual ‘community’, if we
follow the framing of a WMA as community-based natural
resource management. This ts well with our analysis of actors
and powers in WMA governance. The CBO is positioned to
make rules that govern people’s access to land and natural
resources, and the CBO is vested with authority and powers
to enforce the rules and to withstand pressure from below to
modify them, while the central government is–supported by
the facilitators from the District and NGOs–making sure that
the rules are following the logic of conservation corridors
rst, and rural development second. The effects on people’s
livelihoods begin to emerge. Being an area where human
and livestock population have been on the rise for years,
communities most squeezed by conservation territories and
exposed to an intensifying human-wildlife conict (especially
in Kakoi) are increasingly looking for opportunities to rent
farmland and graze livestock outside of Burunge WMA.
Despite the promise of rural development through WMA
membership, tourism-based revenues cannot be sufciently
captured by the communities to represent viable options for
alternative livelihood strategies. Instead, sesame has become
a popular cash crop in response to intensifying crop damage
by wildlife, which makes the cultivation of corn–a key staple
food–a risky endeavour, and has the potential to transform food
security strategies for those who ostensibly become dependent
on markets instead of subsistence farming.
With this article we have shown how WMA governance
distributes rights to land and resources to different actors and
regulates access in a way that villagers feel disempowered to
hold their representatives at the CBO to account. We have also
argued that the prevalent conservation bias acts as a backdrop
to WMA governance, inhibiting genuine participation in
decisions over management goals and access to land and
natural resources. Consequently, the general management
plan hardly reects local needs and conditions, leading to or
exacerbating pre-existing conicts over land and access to
natural resources that the rural population relies on to sustain
livelihoods. This situation is aggravated by an inexible, in
other words ‘austere’, conservation regime of xed boundaries,
rules and restrictions. It is no coincidence that as of 2016,
AWF has been effectively de-funded by its main donor United
States Agency for International Development (USAID), and
the Babati District Game Ofcer has been demoted from his
position. After two decades of conservation through coercion
and ‘decentralized despotism’ (Igoe, 2006) their actions have
produced a legacy of conicts for years to come.
If our case is framed as a ‘successful’ WMA, what can
we expect from other ‘less’ successful examples? Using a
prominent community-based scheme, we have demonstrated
how decentralisation is constrained to the level of a CBO that is
weakly accountable to its constituencies, while recentralisation
over some of the key resources to the central government
or the CBO took place where village governments were
previously in control. It remains to be seen how WMAs with
more homogenous livelihoods and land-use practices fare in
terms of the communities’ ability to negotiate a regime of rules
over access to land and resources that works for the majority
of people. There are some positive examples from Northern
Tanzanian WMAs that are more internally united and have a
more supportive relationship with their CBO (Enduimet WMA,
Makame WMA, personal observations). Our case shows that
inter- and intra-communal differences can easily yield into
full-blown conicts if several villages are coerced into a
WMA regime that is perceived unfair without the possibility
to pull out.
If the promise of community-based conservation is to
be taken seriously—i.e., natural and financial resource
management ‘by’ communities instead of ‘an austere quasi-
fortress model’ (Vaccaro et al. 2013) on village land; attention
to power and accountability relations is needed during the
process of WMA establishment and the making of the regime
of rules over access to land and resources. If community-
based management is to embody community ownership of
the WMA, a claim widely advertised by facilitating NGOs
and government representatives, the needs of the villagers
must be reected in the land-use and management plans.
With our analysis we have tried to point to some of the key
Understanding Resource Conicts in Tanzanian WMAs / 229
obstacles preventing a genuinely devolved community-based
management, highlighting continuous central government
control of key resources and the problematic role of facilitating
NGOs, district authorities, and tourism investors. While we
are not promoting a particular kind of policy for wildlife
conservation, we do hope that our study can problematise some
of the key aspects of Tanzania’s land, wildlife and conservation
policies that reproduce past inequalities for rural populations.
This article beneted from comments by Jens Friis Lund, Emmanuel
Sulle, Eliezeri Sungusia, Edward Lekatia, the editor, two anonymous
reviewers, and other colleagues at the Department of Food and
Resource Economics at the University of Copenhagen. Most
importantly we thank the many people who shared their time and
knowledge with us in the eld. Earlier versions of this article were
presented at the ‘Green Economy in the South’ conference in Dodoma/
Tanzania in July 2014, and at the 2nd Nordic Forest Policy Conference
in South Sweden in November 2014.
This work was partly funded by ‘PIMA, NERC project number NE/
L00139X/1’ with support from the Ecosystem Services for Poverty
Alleviation (ESPA) program. The ESPA programme is funded by the
Department for International Development (DFID), the Economic
and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Natural Environment
Research Council (NERC).
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Received: May 2015; Accepted: November 2015