By BILHAM KIMATI, Tanzania Daily News
October 19, 2013
Nationwide anti-poaching drive of multifaceted nature continues to gain momentum, as the government expands operational horizons which include intensive negotiations with countries especially in Asia where ivory is being sold.
Briefing the media in Dar es Salaam on Friday on success and hurdles encountered in the early stages of the campaign named ‘Eliminate Poaching,’ the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Amb. Khamis Kagasheki said diplomatic consultations through Tanzanian Embassy in China and others in the region had begun, with the aim of joining hands for effective control of ivory trade in countries of destination.
“Anti-poaching has never been an easy fight. Individuals behind this illegal business have money, strength and connections (network). But that does not deter us (Tanzanians) from fighting it to protect the endangered species. We must expose the shooters, the transporters and all other involved corrupt operatives,” Amb. Kagasheki explained.
The minister also underscored the importance of introducing electronic chips when funds allow, as the device would be inserted in horns of live animals (the rhino and elephants) to trace their movements and destinations in case the ivory was sold. The major markets for poached ivory include China, Thailand, Hongkong, among others.
In addition to quick response to intelligence information shared upon spotting of the suspects, the minister supported the idea about incentives to be offered to those giving genuine information which might lead to the arrest of poachers.
The Acting Wildlife Director, Ms Nebo Mhina, said the ministry considers the approach practical and pledged implementation of the plan which involves the community at large.
However, the minister expressed disappointment for unbelievable laxity displayed by some of the entrusted members of authorities, especially the police who operate to shield suspects instead of pushing for legal measures against them.
“Arusha Regional Crime Officer (RCO), Duani Nyanda, acted indifferently in the recent past. Game officers in the region arrested two suspects from Saudi Arabia, confiscated their travelling documents, brought them to the police station for interrogation and perhaps legal action, but surprisingly the police officer facilitated their departure from the country silently,” the minister explained.
He named the suspects who were found in illegal possession of 84 kilogrammes of ivory and were allegedly assisted by RCO Nyanda to leave the country as Alhassan Ali with Passport Number IC 886898 and Nadel Ali Mbooh holding Passport Number L 381854.
He recalled another example of a person in Arusha who was found in illegal possession of modern and powerful telescope-mounted rifles with dozens of ammunitions.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that the firearms were rented to poachers. This one too was set free and no serious disciplinary or legal actions were taken against him. No body is above the law,” he insisted.
However, the minister sounded resolute to a successful fight despite all the obstacles saying that patriotic spirit among members of the community and the strong support by the government and cooperation with the international community, war against poaching would be fought successfully.
During his recent visit to the United States of America, President Jakaya Kikwete reiterated the government’s commitment to fight poaching, saying when necessary the army would be deployed to end indiscriminate killing of rhinos and elephants.
In support of the initiative to fight poaching, a group of 10 hunting operators donated to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism equipment worth 42m/- on Thursday.
During a brief hand-over ceremony held at the ministry’s headquarters in Dar es Salaam, the Northern Hunting Enterprise (T) Limited Managing Director, Muhsin Abdallah on behalf of hunting firms at Rungwa Game Reserve, Kizigo/Muhuwesi Game Reserve and Ecosystem, condemned poaching and pledged continued support to stop it.
The companies which made the donation are Northern Hunting Enterprises (T), Palahala Safaris, Rungwa Game Safaris, Wembere Hunting Safaris, Robin Hurt Safaris, Bushman Safaris, Marera Safaris, African Buffalo Trackers, TAWICO and Wildfoot Prints.
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