WILD to INSPIRE: The Beauty of Wildlife Management Areas

About the Author

Dan Duran is the winner of the first WILD to INSPIRE film competition, hosted in partnership with AWF, Nat Geo WILD and Sun Valley Film Festival. As the winner, he was chosen to travel to Tanzania to film at AWF's Manyara Ranch in December 2014. More

Dan Duran jumping for joy at Lake Burunge wit an anti-poaching scout

Besides the overabundance of wildlife I have been shooting, this week I had the opportunity to travel to Burunge to visit one of AWF’s WMAs. Just a quick recap for those of you who don’t know what a WMA is, WMA is an acronym for Wildlife Management Area.

As one of the AWF’s many conservation efforts in the Maasai Steppe Landscape, WMAs are community lands operating as a protected area and typically comprise of a collection of villages. These villages agree to follow certain conservation agreements as a means of obtaining wildlife tourism revenues or other benefits that may come about from conservation.

Upon arriving at Burunge, I met with Rama, the man in charge of the Burunge WMA. Although his English wasn’t good, I was able to conduct the interview in Swahili thanks to my invaluable driver, Dickson. During this trip, I have found myself playing many roles i.e sound mixer, DP, producer, director, etc., which has been very difficult, especially when conducting an interview.

In addition to being my driver and right hand man, Dickson has been my interview translator, AC, personal photographer and documentarian, tour guide, Swahili teacher, and lion whisperer. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without him. He has truly facilitated production in not only getting amazing access to wildlife, but also people.

Whenever I conduct an interview I always want my subjects to be as comfortable as possible so that they open up. And I found on this trip that most Tanzanians open up when they speak their native tongue, which makes sense and why I actually like conducting my interviews in Swahili. It gives me one less thing to worry about so I can focus my attention on sound and picture.

Going back to my experience at the WMA and meeting Rama—I learned a great deal about his work in Burunge and importance of the WMAs to the region. He is thankful for AWF’s assistance in helping protect areas around Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks. I also met with a village game scout from Burunge who showed me some of the villages he protects from poachers, grazing, and other types of encroachments. He also gave me a tour of Lake Burunge, which was absolutely magnificent.

I’m very impressed with the work AWF is doing with local villages in order to preserve the wildlife and corridors that exist between national parks. Next week I travel to Manyara Ranch Conservancy, and I know AWF is doing a lot of conservation work at Manyara…so there will be more to report soon! I can’t believe I still have another week left!

Read about all of Dan's adventures during his travels in Tanzania.