Illegal logging in Tanzania, which has the highest deforestation rate in East Africa and the fifth highest deforestation rate in the world, is rampant.Tanzania’s consumption of wood exceeds its supply, creating an annual 19.5 million cubic meters of “wood deficit”.Illegal loggers captured and driven away from the forests by Matinda on his patrols are rarely punished by officials. NAMALULU, Tanzania – Tumaini Matinda dropped to one knee and fixed his intense gaze on a watermelon rind in the middle of the narrow path. Deep in the Tanzanian bush, the green rind stood out against the bright red earth. “This shouldn’t be here,” he said. The 37 year-old safari guide and self-assigned warden of the forest sprinted into the thick growth to look for the human source of the discarded rind: poachers. Tall and lanky, Matinda – who is a respected community leader and part of the African Maasai tribe – moved effortlessly through the trees. Three other young Maasai men followed close behind, all armed with machetes and a fierce desire to protect the forest. Loggers build makeshift camps from wood, rope and tarpaulin deep in the bush. Loggers will stay for days and sometimes weeks at a time and clear areas of forest for timber and charcoal production. Photo by Willy Lowry This is one of dozens of patrols that Matinda has organized in the forests of Simanjiro District located on the Maasai Steppe in northern Tanzania. It is one of many corners of the world where the grip of illegal logging and exploitation of forest resources has tightened in recent years. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s 2015 Global Forests Resources Assessment, Tanzania experienced the fifth-highest rate of deforestation in the world between 2010-2015. That’s about 372,000 hectares of net forest loss every year. Though a slight decrease over the previous two decades, it is still rampant. According to Matinda, during the last three years swarms of men have overrun the bush near his home village of Namalulu and set up camps deep in the wilderness. They spend weeks at a time clearing the primary acacia forest, keeping the big logs and turning the rest into charcoal. At night, area villagers say they often see large trucks rumble in and out of the woods, carrying out the loads to sell in the city.