People's Livelihoods and Conservation: Community-based Conservation in Maswa Game Reserve

James Benedict Kuboja, Maxmillian Julius Chuhila


After a long time of operation of the fortress conservation method in Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and Game Reserves, experts have debated whether Community Based Conservation (CBC) is a reality or just another fantasy. Because of the way they are governed in relation to their use values, WMAs and Game Reserves provide varied conservation experiences. According to this study, CBCs are never universally beneficial or unsuccessful, but rather rely on the context in which they are used. Despite the hurdles that this strategy faces in different areas, Maswa Game Reserve (MGR) has shown some success. This paper investigates the dynamics of CBC in Maswa Game Reserve using a historical perspective. It makes use of previously unseen historical records to highlight the dynamics of conservation politics in connection to local people's livelihood. We found that CBC was largely ineffective in MGR between the 1980s and the early 1990s, until it was seriously adopted in the mid-1990s and early 2010s, when it significantly enhanced people's participation in conservation efforts. Increased public participation in MGR reduced the depletion of wildlife resources, but this did not imply the exercise was without resentments. As a result, CBC is not a comprehensive refutation of fortress conservation's flaws, but rather another method of indicating that resource access, management, and use is a negotiated process defined by who receives what.


Key words: community-based conservation, Maswa Game Reserve, conservation, rural livelihood, wildlife, rural development

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