18 December 2012

Tanzania: Local Firms to Boost Anti-Poaching Drive

TANZANIA is home to some of Africa's largest game reserves, but conservationists hold that many species are at risk of extinction due to poaching and this calls for swift measures by the state and non-state institutions to end the malpractice.

Stakeholders say low investments in the human resources and crucial facilities like helicopters for carrying frequent patrols and surveillance in the game sanctuaries are among factors that make poaching flourish.

Poachers are reportedly deploy sophisticated equipment and often outsmart anti-poaching operations. In South Africa, for example, where the poaching is rampant, it is alleged that poachers use helicopters to identify animals targeted for killing.

To support government efforts to curb poaching, ten hunting operators last week donated various equipment worth 42m/- to bolster the anti-poaching campaigns, the malpractice which is currently threatening wildlife existence in the country.

Speaking on behalf of the 10 hunting firms with hunting blocs at Rungwa Game Reserve, Kizigo/ Muhuwesi Game Reserve and Ecosystem, the Northern Hunting Enterprise (T) Limited Managing Director Mr Muhsin Abdallah said there was need to involve all stakeholders to curb the malpractice.

"Conducting patrols in the country's wildlife which is approximately 120,000 kms requires enough budget and incentives to game wardens, the fact that calls all state and non-state actors to team up and bring poaching to its end," he said.

The facilities donated include 15 tyres and three batteries for anti-poaching vehicles, 12 front and rear shock absorbers of Australian made vehicles, one injector pump, six injector nozzles, 10 tents, two satellite phones and 10,000 litres of diesel.

The companies which donated the facilities include 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.

To increase patrols in wildlife areas Mr Muhsin said his company and the other two have ordered three helicopters to facilitate the surveillance in Rungwa Game Reserve, Kizigo/Muhuwesi Game Reserve and Ecosystem.

"Conservation of wildlife resources has become an expensive undertaking due to the vastness of the area as well as increased demand for the trophies from some Asian countries," he said.

According to a report released by the conservation group, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), last week, poor wildlife protection efforts by both African and Asian in response to skyrocketing poaching are putting the survivalof rhinoceroses, tigers and elephants at risk.

The report names Vietnam, Laos and Mozambique as the countries that do the least to combat poaching or trafficking of the endangered animals, whose body parts are highly valued in many Asian cultures for use in traditional medicine or as decorative items.

The report singled out Vietnam for failing to curtail the consumption and trade of rhinoceros horn, which it said had fuelled a poaching crisis in South Africa. According to international standards, the Manager of the Rungwa Game Reserve, the second after Selous Mr Julius Kibebe said each game warden is supposed to patrol an area of about 25 kms but due to insufficient resources they oversee an area of between 280 and 300 square kms.

In the meantime, the companies have made a special request to the government to increase the hunting period from five to around 20 years, which could be considerable for the firms to invest in key infrastructure projects like roads and bridges for easy access into the wildlife areas to curb poaching.

The Acting Director of Wildlife Division Mr Twaha Twaibu, representing the Director of Wildlife Division, called for co-operation from all the citizens to reveal the poachers to protect the country's wildlife resources, which provide unique attractions and one of the important sources of government revenues.

"The assistance from the hunting operators is an impact of the public-private partnerships (PPP) in the efforts to conserve the lucrative wildlife resources from rampant poaching," he said, adding that, "It is the first support of its kind from these firms since when hunting regulations enacted in 2010."

Mr Twaibu challenged other companies which secured hunting blocks in the period of 2013-18 to emulate their colleagues in support of the government efforts to protect wildlife for the present and future generations.

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