Biggest Number of female Village Game Scouts ever Graduate in Tanzania | WWF

Biggest Number of female Village Game Scouts ever Graduate in Tanzania

Posted on 13 July 2018    
Village Game Scouts' Parade during a graduation ceremony
© WWF Tanzania
It will take you more than 12 hours by road from Dar Es Salaam to get to Namtumbo district of the Ruvuma region in the Southern part of Tanzania. This is the district that is the home to the only community based conservation training college in Tanzania. The college is in an area called Likuyu Sekamaganga just at the tip of The Southern sector of Selous Game Reserve.
The college was established in 1993 and has trained more than 4000 village game scouts from Tanzania as well as Mozambique. In 1995 following the return home of Mozambique refugees the college was installed in the buildings that were used as a refugee camp in the Southern part of Ruvuma region.
It was yet another graduation for at the college that brought interested participants from across the country to witness this important happening in the conservation of natural resources in Tanzania.  55 Village Game scouts were graduating and the mood was really jubilant, ceremonial and a sign of a better future for nature and humans as well.
 Unlike other graduations in the Likuyu Sekamaganga this was the first graduation with the biggest number of women. History was written. For the first time out of the 55 graduating VGS 18 were women! These women had endured all the grueling exercises and tough training to successfully acquire the paramilitary skills that will make them part of the custodians of nature in their villages.
The journey was not easy at all as narrated by one of the female VGS, Hanifa Hashim Kilema, she is 21 years old just a year after her secondary school and the first timer VGS.  “During the first two weeks there was a time I felt like quitting and go back home, I was so tired I wanted to cry; the exercises were extremely tough I was doubtful I could survive even for a day longer! But I always had a motivation and that is my determination to make sure that I am a big part of changing the world by saving our natural resources, I hold the protection of wildlife and nature at heart, it is my passion. I come from a village just near Selous Game Reserve, since I was a small girl I loved being a ranger, their strength and how smart they were made me want nothing else but being one of them. When I grew up and understood what entails the ranger’s work I determined even more to become a ranger myself, this kept me going. And the solidarity among us was another reason I determined to go through it all and eventually graduate. We encouraged and supported each other constantly; we had a really great team spirit”. She said
In Chimbuko village where Hanifa comes from bush meat is a thriving business, where people sell and buy openly, but they also still have a challenge of human and wildlife conflict where many a time animals will destroy the farms. These are the things that Hanifa wants to deal with after receiving the training at Likuyu Sekamaganga. She says she will work closely with the village natural resources committee to educate her community on the dangers of the bush meat business and its impact to wildlife and the traditional ways of dealing with HWC.
All the VGS were very motivated and looking forward to bring about the needed changes in their areas and villages.
WWF Tanzania has sponsored two intakes of training for a total of 75 VGS where in the first intake 25 VGS were trained with one female making it through the end of the training, the second one had to drop out because of family challenges.
Drills, paramilitary, and guard of honor parades characterized the ceremony as guests were treated to rare military entertainment.
Officiating at the event, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of tourism and natural resources Major General Gaudence Milanzi underscored the importance of village scouts in the protection of wildlife in the country. He said village game scouts also help in preserving the country’s heritage, which is beneficial to future generations.
Major General Milanzi responded to issues raised by the graduating VGS and promised to make the necessary follow ups to address their challenges as soon as is possible.
Speaking at the same function, WWF Tanzania’s Conservation Manager Dr. Simon Lugandu called on village game scouts to be bold and use the skills they acquired during training to face poachers and help conserve wildlife and other natural resources. He said WWF will always be willing to support the VGS and the government in the efforts to conserve Tanzania’s natural resources.
Village Game Scouts being from the communities near the reserves and parks perform an important responsibility of protecting wildlife but they are always faced by endless challenges including lack of working gear like tents, binoculars, communication equipment and financial support for patrols, lack of appropriate identification  approved by the Wildlife Division as designated Game Assistants and of course the risk on their lives.
Village Game Scouts' Parade during a graduation ceremony
© WWF Tanzania Enlarge

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