20100513_image001

Britt, How did you get involved in conservation work?

I grew up on the southern coast of Maine and started my work in South Africa in 2000 for a small, family owned and operated safari company. As my passion grew, my path in Africa took me from the tourism industry; wildlife capture, relocation, and monitoring assignments; nationally qualifying and registering as a certified Field Guide; working with communities on small business development projects in rural areas; and eventually to working as an international conservation and sustainability consultant for various non-profit foundations and corporations.

But more simply put, my love of wilderness set me on a path of experiences. I’ve also been so blessed to have wonderful mentors in the conservation field, from my family, Dr. Ian Player, Vance Martin, and others.

Tell us about the Friedkin Conservation fund and the goals.

The Friedkin Conservation Fund (FCF) is a registered (US and Tanzanian) non-profit, non-governmental organization incorporated in 1994 (Certificate of Registration SO.NO.9807). Their role is to assist the Tanzanian Government with the conservation and preservation of more than nine million acres of Tanzania’s protected areas. They achieve this through our internationally recognized anti-poaching initiative, their innovative community development program and their field research projects. Based out of Arusha, northern Tanzania, they operate in five Game Reserves, two Open Areas, three Forest Reserves and one Game Controlled Area.

Our mission is to:

  • Provide proactive assistance to the Government and the people of Tanzania with their efforts to conserve and preserve their Protected Area network
  • Engage rural communities in the conservation of their natural heritage and empower them to alleviate some of the conditions in their lives that contribute to poverty
  • Monitor, research and facilitate developments in sustainable utilization of natural resources.

What are the successes of the organization?
Focusing on the anti-poaching arm of FCF…

During 2005 and 2006 our teams were responsible for the arrests of some 3,884 poachers. Their seizures included 209 illegal firearms, 15 elephant tusks and nearly 16,000 planks of illegally logged hardwood.  2007 ended on a very high note. The anti-poaching teams finished the year with a total of 2,131 arrests and 91 confiscated firearms.

FCF was recognized as the APHA’s ‘Ox of the Okavango’ for 2007 – an award presented to the conservation organization of the year as decided upon by the members and board of the APHA.

FCF’s training and work in the field has been filmed and broadcast by ESPN and the Animal Planet Channel.

How many poachers were arrested before FCF came about?
Zero

What is the current poaching situation in Tanzania?

Poaching levels in Tanzania are significant. Bushmeat, hard wood timber and ivory poaching are very predominate.  Organized and subsistence poaching affect all nine million acres of FCF concession areas.  CITES decision to not downgrade the elephant’s status in Tanzania is a key indicator of the level of severity of poaching levels in Tanzania and how seriously everyone needs to continue the anti-poaching initiatives! In the areas which FCF is responsible for, in excess of 2,000 arrests are made per year.    How much more can be done with additional resources?

Every year FCF needs to replace tents, sleeping bags, and other supplies used by our staff in the field. Vehicle expenses are always high, considering the rough country FCF patrols and works in on a daily basis. Microlights operational costs take up a large portion of our budget.  Thankfully, FCF has just received a major commitment from Safari Club International to help purchase a new mircolight and aid in the maintenance cost for five years! FCF is committed to providing higher salaries to their rangers and continuous additional training that encourages field personnel to perform to a higher standard.

I also want to note, something very rare in the non-profit world, that 100% of donations goes to the projects on the ground.  All overhead and salaries are covered separately from a private donor.

Here is an example of the costs associated with one team (15-20 people) of FCF’s private rangers for one year.

Expense    One Year, One Team
Salaries    $7,500.00
Rations    $5,925.00
Uniforms    $700.00
Game Scouts    $2,030.00
Advancement Training    $1,500.00
Performance Bonus    $1,540.00
Contingency    $2,000.00
Vehicle Fuel & Maintenance    $22,000.00
TOTAL    $43,195.00

I understand that FCF is more then just an Anti-Poaching Crusade, Tell us a little bit about the community development work that is also going on in Tanzania?

For FCF, it is not enough to conserve only wildlife. Conservation must include entire ecosystems and the human communities that live in and around these ecosystems. The Community Development Sector has been established to meet FCF’s mission to practice inclusive, people-oriented conservation.

Vision:

For communities in and around our concessions to attain and appreciate benefits through sustainable use of their natural resources.

FCF projects, designed in close collaboration with villages, district officials and the Wildlife Division emphasize the importance of conservation achieved simultaneously with sustainable development. Two field officers, together with anti-poaching team commanders and concession managers, work on the ground with representatives of eleven districts and over one hundred villages. This daily, personal interaction provides groundwork for solidly designed community-owned projects that improve the quality of living around Tanzania’s protected areas and highlight the benefits of conservation.  I understand FCF has had various equipment sponsors and funding from private sources as well as SCI, Can you tell us a little bit about these sponsors?

Equipment Sponsorship- FCF has been fortunate to receive donations from organizations such as SureFire, ColdSteel, Leopold optics, etc. High quality equipment is very difficult to obtain in Tanzania and these generous donations go a long way in increasing FCF’s effectiveness on the ground. It is a good two-way relationship as these companies get to have their products thoroughly tested in the extreme field conditions that anti-poaching operations provide and FCF gets the top quality equipment for their rangers.

Financial Sponsorship- this continues to be an important component for FCF allowing them to go that extra mile on the ground. Most of these sponsorships are targeted at the community development and include student school sponsorships tree nursery initiatives, renewable energy services in clinics, water well construction, etc.  These donations come from private individuals as well as from generous organizations such as the Mzuri Wildlife Foundation, Safari Club International and Dallas Safari Club.

FCF is so grateful for the continued assistance from these various sources – it all makes a huge difference! Asante sana – thank you very much!  FCF is also eager to collaborate with other organizations on conservation-related issues. Please contact us if you feel our organizations can benefit from each other on such matters!

U.S. Contact Information
Britt Hosmer – FCF US Representative
britt@rockenvironmental.com