Parliament on Friday 1st November suspended the campaign to allow investigation of reported seizure of property and killing of suspects.
Tanzanian Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Khamis Kagasheki defended his controversial anti-poaching operation and praised police for their total seizure of a huge haul of 706 elephant tusks. “It means 353 elephants were killed to get all those!”
Kagasheki also praised police officers who reportedly turned down a $18, 700 bribe to let them go free.
In the past two months, police and wildlife officers have cracked down on all suspected poachers amid a surge of elephant and rhino killings in Tanzania. Shortly after the campaign’s launch, Kagasheki was widely quoted in Tanzanian media as saying that “rangers are allowed to shoot to kill poachers.”
“I admit that there is an ugly side in the operation, but what is happening now in arresting culprits and impounding tusks is part of the success of the operation,” he said, refusing to step down over the allegations of misconduct.
Kagasheki said the ivory was seized Saturday from the house of three Chinese traders in Dar es Salaam, who reportedly imported garlic from China and exported marine products from Tanzania.
“Now we have proof that the Chinese are raping our resources. The connection to the slaughter of our elephants is clear, “said Pratik Patel from the African Wildlife Trust, an initiator and supporter of the anti-poaching operations occurring all over the country.
More Chinese are now sought by the Tanzanian police after the three suspects reportedly started spilling the beans on others involved in the ivory trade and during the course of the week more arrests were made as well as additional ivory seizures.