Community Conservation Banks (COCOBAs)

Community Conservation Banks (COCOBA) is a microfinance program that was established in the Serengeti eEcosystem in 2009 by the Frankfurt Zoological Society in collaboration with the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) through Serengeti National Parks (SENAPA). It is a savings and banking loans model.

The overall goal of the COCOBA programme is to reduce pressure on natural resources and provide economic activities. COCOBAs allow members to access loans to establish conservation-friendly businesses, such as beekeeping, chicken farming, and tree planting.

FZS supports and facilitates marketing and business development for members across several villages surrounding Serengeti National Park. COCOBA’ s also enhances communities’ participation in conservation through refraining from poaching for bushmeat business and engaging with environmentally-friendly/neutral livelihoods activities.

The COCOBA structure

A COCOBA group is made up of 15 to 30 community members from the village. The members meet weekly and contribute shares to a common bank, from which they are later able to take out low-interest loans to support conservation-friendly (or neutral) income-generating activities. Further supporting the conservation aspect of this enterprise, many of the groups so far established consist entirely of former illegal bushmeat hunters who have agreed to stop poaching wildlife and are looking for alternative livelihood options.

The effectiveness of the COCOBA scheme is due to its emphasis on elements of self-help initiatives, community capacity building and local resources mobilization, community project ownership, and joint management. The banks themselves are long-lasting and sustainable and have been very successful so far. FZS is implementing a Training of Trainers approach to build expert capacity within the district and village levels to ensure sustainability of the groups.

COCOBA programme positively impacting conservation

In April 2023 the FZS COCOBA programme supports 125 COCOBA groups around the ecosystem which benefits 3,223 community members, of which 1,731 are women and 1,492 are men. In addressing the bushmeat poaching problem in Serengeti, 15 members of COCOBA groups are participating in de-snaring and cattle projects to reduce poaching activities through snares removal and to reduce livestock grazing inside Serengeti National Park.

The COCOBA programme is now an important platform for FZS, TANAPA and other conservation agencies to instill conservation education in communities bordering protected areas. COCOBA is an avenue which provides an opportunity for the implementation of other conservation-related community livelihood projects such as beekeeping.

Recently, COCOBA members have started voluntarily forming community elephant taskforces to scare away elephants from community farms to contribute in reducing human-wildlife conflicts, especially crop raids by elephants. The elephant task force initiative has been adopted by the Serengeti district council and scaled up to villages bordering all protected areas in the western Serengeti ecosystem.

The COCOBA programme contributes to strengthening the relationship and building trust between PAs and communities.The positive outcomes of the COCOBA programme around the Serengeti ecosystem have made other national parks adopt the COCOBA model, including Kilimanjaro National Park, Mikumi National Park, Ruaha National Park, and Nyerere National Park.


Zoologische Gesellschaft Frankfurt von 1858 e.V.
Bernhard-Grzimek-Allee 1
60316 Frankfurt

Telephone: +49 (0)69 - 94 34 46 0
Fax: +49 (0)69 - 43 93 48

You will find our office in the Zoogesellschaftshaus (1st floor).