MOMS Community Wildlife Guardian Program – Involving Communities in Wildlife Monitoring and Conservation

Lead by Horacio Murico (MOMS Coordinator) and Celestino Dauda (Head Wildlife Guardian)

This is a joint NNR management and NCP program. In 2006 we started a community monitoring and Guardian program called MOMS. This program follows the event book system first developed in Namibia. We now have a team of over 38 Wildlife Guardians across Niassa National Reserve (NNR) all committed to promoting coexistence with wildlife in the villages in which they live. The Guardians collect information on fishing activities, human wildlife conflict and special species sightings and also convey important information to their communities on rabies, ways to reduce human-wildlife conflict, safe behaviours, poisons and conservation. All are connected through an active Whatsapp group that creates a community of conservationists that report on conflict quickly so that we or the reserve can react.

Wildlife Guardians are provided with a toolkit to reduce human-carnivore conflict. The toolkit contains ‘foxlights’ (solar powered scare lights) and the ‘Lion-Human Conflict Toolkit’ book that provides ways to reduce carnivore conflict. Wildlife Guardians are also issued with a mobile phone to ensure they are able to keep in contact and rapidly report human-wildlife conflict on WhatsApp. This allows us to respond quickly to snaring and conflict events.

The data collected and extension work done by these Wildlife Guardians that represent villages across NNR is a critical part of the conservation and adaptive management in NNR. All data collected on paper datasheets are entered into a google drive database which is available for use by NNR management. Data are completely up to date from 2006. Given that in 2017 – 4098 human wildlife conflict events were reported, 9694 sightings of special species were recorded and 38635 kg of fish were measured this is no mean feat!

A MOMS Workshop is held each year at the Mariri Environmental and Skills Training Center where all the guardians come together to share experiences from their far flung villages.

This program is lead and managed by Horacio who has visited Gorongosa, Mozambique and Ruaha Carnivore Project to gain experience in conservation. In 2018, Celestino Dauda, from Macalange Village inside NNR and the Head Guardian of the MOMS program won a Houston Zoo Wildlife Warrior award. Dauda was hired as one of our first 5 community wildlife guardians in 2006. He is an inspiration to us all and someone we go to often for his opinion, for his understanding of how communities work and how to resolve conflict effectively. He is a champion for conservation.