ARUSHA, Tanzania – Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) the custodian of 16 national parks in Tanzania, has sent a strong message to all workers of the national parks, conservation agencies and other public institutions related to wildlife that if they are found to collude with the syndicate of people behind poaching activities they would face tough consequences.
TANAPA’s Director General, Mr. Allan Kijazi said in Arusha last week that the war against poaching should be “a collective responsibility” and has to involve the conservation agency and other security organs as well as the community at large.
Kijazi warned that the state machinery was “already at work”, tracing the brains behind the massacre of wildlife, illegal ivory trade and other vices aiming to deplete the country’s wildlife heritage.
“It is estimated that the country is losing 30 elephants per day or 10,000 in a year. At the current rate of poaching, it is feared there will be no elephants in Tanzania in ten years’ time,” Kijazi said.
He stressed that wildlife was key to the country’s tourism industry, but that the increasing incidence of poaching, mainly targeting the elephants, could threaten the multi-million dollar industry, now the leading foreign exchange earner for the economy.
Besides the elephants, hunted for their ivory, other animals targeted by the poachers are rhinos, for their highly prized horns, leopards, cheetahs, lions, hippopotamus and a host of others.
Kijazi, who was speaking to TANAPA employees and their families during a ‘Family Day’ organized annually, said the parks body would continue to strengthen its anti-poaching unit and that 100 game rangers have just passed out and that many more would follow later this year.
“In addition to boosting rangers’ stable, we are also going to be ordering new artillery and equipment to ensure that the force is well-armed to protect our national heritage”, he pointed out.
Stakeholders in the tourism sector have warned that poaching activities threatened the Tanzania’s elephant population.
The Tourism Confederation of Tanzania (TCT), an umbrella organization representing the tourism private business sector involved in travel and tourism, has appealed to the government to reconsider its decision to suspend indefinitely the anti-poaching campaign, Operation Terminate (Operation Tokomeza) on grounds of human rights abuse and violation.
A statement issued by TCT in Arusha a few weeks ago beseeched the government to continue with the operation. “It is the position of TCT that the suspension of the operation will only aggravate the situation by giving poachers and their sponsors more time to reorganize and plan for some new strategies that may have devastating effects on the remaining elephant herds in the wilderness,” read part of the statement.
The TCT’s current members include the Tanzania Association of Travel Agents, Tanzania Air Operators Association, Hotels Association of Tanzania, Intra-African Travel and Tourism Association and the Tanzania Hunting Operators Association.
Others are a Tanzania Professional Hunters Association, Tanzania Tour Guides Association, Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors, Tanzania Association of Tour Operators and Tourism and Hospitality Professionals Association of Tanzania.