“I will never forget the day I had to cross river Barageti in Serengeti by stepping on hippos back so that I can serve myself from park rangers."
Those are not my words but from an extraordinary x – poacher Mr. Shaban Andrea. He is originally from Mugete village from Bunda district in Mara region of Tanzania. He started poaching in 1980 after completing his primary education the same year. In his own words he claims that he is from a poor family and couldn’t think of anything else to alleviate poverty in the family than poaching.
Mr. Shaban went on by revealing the sad moment of his life during the illegal act of utilizing wildlife resources without permission. He spoke on several times his life was at stake and how he survived. He said sometimes during late 1980’s he went on crossing the border to a national park in Kenya where he nearly got killed for he became a target of bullets for more than two hours nonstop.
|From the left Mr. Hans, Centre is Mr. Shaban Andrea and me on the right.|
His poaching activities can be categorized into two, where during the 1980s he mainly focused on elephants for ivory and there after changed business to trade other animals like giraffe, Impala and buffaloes This was due to the rapid diminishing of elephants, he testifies.
He went on saying that most of time poachers are able to see park rangers earlier than the opposite. He never involved superstition with this illegal act. He used heavy and sophisticated weapons that was supplied by private owners some of them included rifle 458, 375. His place was very popular that his customer had to place order by scrambling. He never mentioned how he managed to get out from various detentions but most of students figured it out, that most probably corruption was behind this.
|Class of Wildlife Management in CAWM College 2013/2014|
Life after poaching.
After several arrests by park rangers, Mr. Shaban thought of ending his dark business. He was good at what he used to do that he attracted attention of the park rangers. He came across Singita Grumeti Reserve Rangers and he joked on his interest to be employed by them. Well he got a job and you can’t believe what he has turned into. Or let just say the rest is history.
He is now an assistance field researcher, as well as community conservation expert. And today I benefited from him as he paid a visit to our class of wildlife management in MWEKA at College of African Wildlife Management.
He continued by saying that today he is a much better man compared to what he used to be. He has three children in various colleges and he believes on the power of community conservation. He has helped some of other poachers to end the illegal business. He is grateful to Singita Grumeti Reserve and their efforts in conservation.
He explains how TANAPA and other stake holders were trying hard to establish community conservation concepts to his village. He said that there are various benefit sharing projects that are conducted in this village like schools and dispensary.