By Stella Jimmy, IPPMedia, 13th September 2013
Corruption and immorality have been cited as the main reasons that contribute to the ongoing elephant poaching in the country.
The statement was made yesterday in Dar es Salaam by the Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu at the climax of the Anti- Poaching Awareness walk which started from Arusha on August 24, this year and ended in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
“Corruption and immorality have reached an extreme stage and it should not be tolerated. If legal action is not taken against the corrupt police officers at the Airport, employees at national parks, politicians and businessmen doing the illegal ivory trade shielded by a few leaders, then we will lose all our elephants in few years to come”, he asserted.
Nyalandu outlined other reasons as including gangs who use powerful automatic weapons and extreme poverty which tempts many poor people to engage in poaching to deal with life hardships, saying many of them are used by politicians and rich businessmen.
He said that in 1960 there were 350,000 elephants in the country but due to poaching only 110,000 elephants remained in 2009. From 2010- July 2013 some 1,386 elephants have been killed.
At least 4,066 poachers were arrested and 1,899 weapons used in poaching seized between 2010 and last year.
Nyalandu called on citizens to reveal any one engaging in poaching since the government and international institutions are working together to fight against poaching including building capacity to national parks officers to be able to fight against the poaching criminals.
He warned that the government will not hesitate to take stern measures against any officials of whatever position engaging in poaching, including publishing their names in the media and eventually confiscating their properties.
Nyalandu applauded those who contributed to the awareness walk including the initiator of the walk Africa Wildlife Trust (AWT) and the people from California, United States of America.
In recognising their big contribution, the minister awarded them with certificates of recognition and asked AWT to provide funds and equipment to the wildlife sector to support the war against poaching.
For his part, the Parliamentary Chairman of Land, Environment and Natural Resources Committee, James Lembeli said the rate of elephants being slaughtered has reached alarming proportions in the country in recent years but government actions did not match the seriousness of the situation.
Statistics, show that 30 elephants are killed every day, 850 in a month and 10,000 annually. Lembeli challenged government to carry out a nationwide special operation to fight the menace of poaching in national parks and increase budgetary allocation to the wildlife sector.
The leader of the awareness walk and the AWT Chief Executive Officer, Pratik Patel said that apart from saving elephants, the awareness walk was to honour the same organised walk by the Late Julius Nyerere from Mwanza to Dar es Salaam 50 years ago where in his speech he said the responsibility to protect wildlife is for all Tanzanians for the present and future generations’ benefits.
He said that elephants contribute to 35 percent of revenue to the nation but if they continue to be killed the government will lose millions in revenue, calling on the government, non governmental sectors and the citizens to open eyes and take the lead to save the elephants.
Tanzania Game Trackers Safaris, Ker & Dowery Tanzania and Wengert Windrose Safaris donated a 2,250,000m USD in a 2013 Anti-Poaching Community Development Budget to support the war against elephant poaching in the country.�
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