PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete’s consoled with words of encouragement uttered in Kaboya Barracks in Muleba district, Kagera region on last week.
He assured people not to fear going about their day to day businesses, as the army is ready to defend the country’s borders at all times and under any circumstances. At least that gives me hope, I should not fear moving around going about my normal daily activities, ensuring that my family does not starve in any way, while the nation takes a step forward in development.
As the president was preparing to travel to Kagera, some people working under him were making sure that they were improving the lives of Tanzanians. But not all that were adhering to the president’s directives to deliver social services ethically. They instead decided to satisfy their egoistic motives, and violated work ethics to fill their big stomachs.
Three prison wardens in Kiteto district in Manyara region collaborated with evil civilians and killed two giraffes, two ostriches, two zebras, a Thomson gazelle, all valued at over 55m/-. Recently as Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda was winding up his seven-day visit in Ruvuma region he expressed anger over poachers killing elephants in Selous National Park and called for the regional administration to take such law defaulters to book.
For the last three weeks, TBC 1 reporter in Ruvuma Region Gasto Msigwa has shown heaps of tusks in police custody, thanks to efforts made by the Ruvuma Regional Police Commander (RPC) Deusdedit Nsimeki, who has even gone as far as awarding cash to people who reveal names of poachers. Under ordinary circumstances, it is hard to arrest a colleague but Paschal Mrina arrested prison wardens who used a government vehicle, a Toyota Land-Cruiser with registration number STK 4394 in their malevolence.
The culprits are none other than Kimaro Joseph Sauli, Richard Barick Peter and Silvester Dionis Bukha. He listed other suspects who are civilians as Abubakari Ngaula, Hamza Mdachi, Saidi Iddi and Hosseni Gola, who are all Kiteto residents who were found in possession of a gun belonging to the Prison department. I propose that Paschal Mrina is named our national hero this year, as he went beyond the call of duty and arrested the prison wardens who had killed wildlife.
Law enforcement officers turned out to be law breakers. Watching TBC 1 report filed by Ben Mwaipaja from Manyara recently, it is heartening to see that our nation still has obedient and faithful servants like Mrina and his team who made sure that the law takes its natural course and went ahead and arrested the poachers.
It is strongly believed that a sophisticated network of rich persons and fear discourages the public from “naming and shaming” poachers thus fuelling illegal hunting in the country. Mr Mrina has proven that the war against poachers is possible.
The minister for Tourism and Natural Resources, Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki once said at a seminar for senior media personnel that poaching is depleting our valuable natural resources, especially elephants and rhinos in our game reserves and national parks. Very unfortunately, this business involves rich people who have formed a very sophisticated network that collaborates with a few government officials as it was in the case in Kiteto recently.
Although the tourism ministry is determined to combat poaching, including taking punitive measures against individuals involved in this malpractice, irrespective of their social status, time has now come to emulate the example shown by Mr Mrina in Kiteto. If deliberate, concerted efforts are not taken by stakeholders, including the government, the media and general public to expose individuals engaging in poaching, elephants and rhinos will soon be extinct.
The media and general public should join the battle and start naming individuals who poach without fear. Ambassador Kagasheki was recently told the media; “It’s now time to name and shame people engaging in this menace. Even if it is me, say it. We must fight against this scourge at all costs,” Ambassador Kagasheki should recognise and award the anti-poaching unit in Kiteto district. Government should take serious steps to combat poaching by deploying armed personnel and camera-equipped drones to engage in anti-poaching operations.
A report recently submitted to and discussed by parliament in Dodoma makes stark reading and confirms what has been rumoured for long, that the rate of poaching is way higher than Tanzanian officials admit. Between 2006 and 2009 as many as 30,000 elephants, many from the poorly guarded Selous park were killed.
These elephants are often killed right under the very noses of law enforcement officers, casting a dark shadow over the country’s commitment to conservation. According to the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, poaching has drastically reduced the elephant population to fewer than 70,000 in 2012 from about 109,000 in 2009.
The government cannot fight poaching war in isolation. There is a need to join hands as Tanzanians to fight poachers as a way to preserve our natural resources. Let us build the habit of reporting incidents that endanger our natural resources.
By Deogratias Mushi, Tanzania Daily News, 28 July 2013