Former chief of the Selous, Benson Kibonde (left), strategizes anti-poaching and road development with PH Peter Dafner (right) for Mkwawa Hunting Safaris.
By Barbara Crown, Editor-in-Chief
Benson Kibonde served as chief warden of Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania from 1994 to 2007, running an antipoaching program that rebounded elephant populations from a low of 30,000 in 1989 to 70,000-plus in 2006. After the latest poaching crisis in Tanzania, authorities brought Kibonde back to the Selous from a wildlife training institute where he had been transferred in 2008. Under his direction, poaching in the Selous was curbed, and elephant numbers stabilized and began to rise again. Kibonde, considered an antipoaching hero in conservation circles, retired from the Tanzanian Wildlife Department in late 2015. But he's not playing golf. He's still managing antipoaching programs in the northwestern sector of the Selous, only now he's doing it for a safari operator.
Editor-in-Chief Barbara Crown learned of Kibonde's latest work at the Safari Club International convention in Las Vegas, where she visited with PH Peter Dafner (firstname.lastname@example.org
). Dafner was Crown's PH when she killed a Cape buffalo in the Selous some years ago. She found him working with an outfit called Mkwawa Hunting Safaris (www.mkwawahuntingsafaris.com
). She sat down with Dafner and Mkwawa's owner Ahmed Huwel (email@example.com
) and learned that Kibonde is running their antipoaching programs on six concessions, five of them in the Selous.
Ivory seized from poachers caught by anti-poaching patrols organized by Kibonde.
Mkwawa has five of the nine blocks that comprise the Msolwa sector in the northwestern part of the Selous. The Msolwa, Ruaha, Ulanga and Kilombero rivers run on the western, northern, southeastern and southwestern borders respectively, thus totally surrounding the Msolwa area. The water sources and habitat in Msolwa draw and keep abundant wildlife. Mkwawa's areas comprise 2,726 contiguous square kilometers, and Huwel is working on adding another Msolwa area bordering a village from which he says poachers enter his areas. Controlling that concession, he says, would shut down a corridor going into the Msolwa areas. Huwel has invested more than $1 million in equipment (grader, bulldozer and trucks) and infrastructure (980 kilometers of roads) at Kibonde's direction, aiming for the conservation success Kibonde has achieved in the past while also building a paradise for hunting clients....