Editor’s Note: TAWA has released updated information including extensions for foreign bidders to have enough time to meet the requirements. This additional information can be found here.
The Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA) has announced it will auction 82 vacant hunting concessions in that country through an online bidding process to be conducted over two stages.
The first auction takes place June 10-16, 2019 and will offer 26 concessions. TAWA’s conservation commissioner distributed an invitation for qualified companies to register for the auction in mid-May. The Conservation Department of Safari Club International Foundation shared the invitation with Safari Times.
SCI members will recall that Tanzania Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism Dr. Hamisi Kigwangalla first proposed changing the country’s system of allocating hunting concessions from a tendering process to that of an auction in October 2017, just after being appointed.
He intended to revoke allocations that had been tendered in December 2016 and hold an auction within 60 days. After protests from the Tanzania Hunting Operators Association (TAHOA) and Tanzania Professional Hunters Association (TPHA) followed by numerous stakeholder meetings, including one during the SCIF-sponsored 2017 African Wildlife Consultative Forum in Arusha, the minister agreed to extend the allocations to 2020 while TAWA researched and created a workable auction process. TAWA is now ready to move forward with those auctions, beginning with concessions that safari operators returned to the government over the last three years and are currently vacant.
About 70 percent (18) of the concessions up for the June auction are in the Selous-Mikumi ecosystem. Another four lie in Katavi-Rukwa, three in Ruaha-Rungwa and one in the Malagarasi-Muyovosi ecosystem. Only five of the areas, all in the Selous, are considered Category I (top quality) areas.
Fourteen areas are listed as Category II (medium quality) areas, and another seven make up the lower quality Category III areas. (See sidebar for a complete list of the concessions up for bidding this month.) Qualified companies may be allocated up to five areas each, which must be a mix of categories. So, no one company will be allocated all five of the better-quality areas. The remaining unoccupied blocks will go to auction between September and October 2019, according to sources at TAWA.
Along with the new auction method of allocating hunting blocks, TAWA also has changed the way it categorizes hunting blocks and the lengths for concession leases. Blocks were previously divided into five categories of quality but are now sorted into three.
The criteria are based on the 2015 Wildlife Conservation Tourist Hunting Regulations and include: habitat diversity; level of human activity; diversity of game species and their value weighted by possible safari days; proximity to national parks or conservation areas; and availability of water. Also, the Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources, which oversees tourist safari hunting, has introduced an amendment to the Wildlife Conservation Act that would increase the lease periods on blocks from five years for all blocks to 10 years for Category I and II areas, and 15 years for the Category III areas. However, these changes depend on the Parliament’s approval when lawmakers are next in session.
Companies interested in bidding on a concession must meet a list of requirements specified in the Tanzanian Wildlife Conservation Act 2009. At least one of the company’s directors must have five years’ experience in a wildlife-based business and in conservation in Tanzania; the company must also be registered with the Registrar of Companies. Anyone who does not already have a safari company in Tanzania will likely find it difficult to participate in this round of bidding, as registering a company in Tanzania reportedly can take up to six months. Additionally, participating companies must have established office premises, a fleet of vehicles registered in Tanzania under the company name, proof of “reliable communication facilities,” and a specific list of camp equipment. In lieu of that, Tanzanian-owned companies must have at least the equivalent of $300,000 in a bank bond for the purchase of required equipment after the allocation (such as two safari vehicles and six tents).
Foreign-owned companies must have $100,000,000 in a bond or more equipment than the domestic-owned companies (five safari vehicles and 12 tents). Additionally, all companies must have a good history of paying government fees. Hunting companies can register online to participate in the auction at http://portal.mnrt.go.tz.
TAWA estimates generating approximately 3.4 million USD per year from all the block fees and associated fees from the utilization of wildlife. Some in the industry question whether that is realistic, considering some concessions have gone without management or counter poaching operations for more than two years. Others question whether the buyers will be companies offering hunting safaris to the public or wealthy individuals who essentially will use the areas as private hunting reserves.
When asked whether the new system of auctioning hunting blocks is likely to produce the results TAWA expects, Michel Mantheakis, president of the Tanzania Hunting Operators Association (TAHOA) said, “We hope all the concessions on auction sell well and to good conservation-oriented outfitters but have reservations about both.”
While having empty concessions re-occupied by safari operators is a positive development, the timing of the auction creates some real challenges for would-be owners. Among those challenges is that the auction takes place on the eve of the 2019 hunting season, opening July 1st. That makes it impossible for concession holders to build camps, cut roads, hire staff, do reconnaissance and market hunts for the season.
Nonetheless, concession holders will be responsible for paying 40 percent of their quotas as well as the community development investments and counter-poaching programs for the 2019 season, whether they sell safaris or not. Established operators with an existing client base and who may have planned for this scenario might be able to organize some safaris in these areas, but hunters should be prepared to work a bit harder and to do so in rougher-than-usual conditions.
As for the safari operators who currently have operating concessions, their concession rights extend through the end of 2020. However, according to TAWA officials, those blocks will go to auction, starting in September/October 2020.
“That will involve 25 blocks leased by the least performing companies,” TAWA’s Wildlife Officer for Trophy Hunting Elisante Ombeni told Safari Times in an email. Ombeni says TAWA will review each company’s performance in terms of concession payments, trophy fees paid and other obligations to rank operators into three categories.
Based on that review, a second group of occupied blocks will be auctioned in September/October 2021, and the top 25 blocks leased by the best performing hunting companies will be in the last auction to be conducted in September/October 2022.–Barbara Crown
TOURIST HUNTING BLOCKS AVAILABLE FOR AUCTION
|S/N||NAME OF BLOCK||Category||SIZE*||ECOSYSTEM
|1||Selous L1||I||464||Selous – Mikumi|
|2||Selous LL2||I||1,276||Selous – Mikumi|
|3||Selous MB1||I||1,093||Selous – Mikumi|
|4||Selous MB2||I||1,054||Selous – Mikumi|
|5||Selous N1||I||1,801||Selous – Mikumi|
|S/N||NAME OF BLOCK||Category||SIZE*||ECOSYSTEM|
|6||Inyonga Game Controlled Area (West)||II||2,129||Katavi – Rukwa|
|7||Kizigo GR-(East)-1||II||1,370||Ruaha – Rungwa|
|8||Lwafi – Nkamba Game Reserve||II||3,369||Katavi – Rukwa|
|9||Mlele GCA (South)||II||1,247||Katavi – Rukwa|
|10||Msima GCA (West)||II||2,101||Katavi – Rukwa|
|11||Muhesi GR||II||2,888||Ruaha – Rungwa|
|12||Selous K3 and LU4||II||1,656||Selous – Mikumi|
|13||Selous LU6||II||883||Selous – Mikumi|
|14||Selous LU7||II||1,459||Selous – Mikumi|
|15||Selous LU8||II||1,629||Selous – Mikumi|
|16||Selous M1||II||432||Selous – Mikumi|
|17||Selous MB4||II||1,063||Selous – Mikumi|
|18||Selous N2||II||1,032||Selous – Mikumi|
|19||Selous IH1||II||425||Selous – Mikumi|
|S/N||NAME OF BLOCK||Category||SIZE*||ECOSYSTEM|
|20||Ituru Forest Open Area||III||2,078
|Ruaha – Rungwa|
|21||Kilwa Open Area (South)||III||1,159||Selous – Mikumi
|22||Liparamba Game Reserve||III||605||Selous – Mikumi|
|23||Mwambesi Game Controlled Area||III||1,082||Selous – Mikumi
|24||Mwatisi OA N – Furua OA||III||1,826||Selous – Mikumi
|25||Ruvuma OA||III||925||Selous – Mikumi|
|26||Ugalla Open Area (North)||III||1,379||Malagarasi-Muyovosi|
*Size of concessions is square kilometers.