I am Maximillan Jenes, I was born 30 yrs ago in a family which relies on small business and small scale farming activities. I was born and raised in a small town called Tarakea, which is in Rombo District, Tanzania, under the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.
I selected to join Mkuu Secondary School for my Ordinary level (O-level) studies where I opted to pursue science subjects having Biology as my favorite subject. After my secondary studies, I applied and selected to join Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), where I studied Wildlife Management.
As I was born and raised in an area where conservation is very important, my dream was to become a conservationist after my studies. My first inspiration in conservation was when I went to Kilimanjaro National Park, where I conducted a research on Conservation and Tourism as part of my O-level studies. In this research I learnt about ecology of different wild species. Thereafter, my heart was telling me to care for wild creatures in their natural habitat. However, I had very little knowledge about the word “poaching”. I didn’t know the actual facts about anti-poaching and that, if somebody is a conservationist, he/she must fight against poaching.
After my university studies, I did an internship at the Natural History Museum in Arusha, meanwhile I was selected to join a team of paleontologists as a research assistant for two months. It was a great opportunity for me to conduct paleontological research in Olduvai Gorge, which is a very important historical site in the world.
In 2011, I joined the PAMS Foundation team. In my interview, I was asked about the poaching crisis. By that time, I was aware of the prevailing elephant poaching crisis from various media reports, but I never worked in the field of anti-poaching – I had no experience at all. However, I recognized the importance of fighting poaching, so I said “yes” and was ready to work on this issue, despite being intimidated and warned by my close friends. They were worried about me, as I was going to work in a tough and risky environment. I blocked my ears and joined community scouts who had very little anti-poaching skills and were highly underequipped.
I was about to lose hope when my scouts came back from the first patrol operation with a number of elephant carcasses and other animal’s carcasses, including very fresh ones. Yet, I realized that poaching in this area is financed by rich men. I got very close support and advice from my colleagues, especially from the PAMS team, through regular changing of strategies and approaches to anti-poaching.
It has now been three years that I do this work. I am confidently and proudly saying that me and my team members have managed to reduce poaching in the Selous-Niassa Corridor by 94%. I felt very honoured when my work was recognized with the International Young Conservationist Award during the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 in Sydney.