DESPITE poaching posing serious challenges, the government has assured that it is determined to see growth in the population of wild animals.
This was revealed by the Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Lazaro Nyalandu, just a day after it was reported that a Parliamentary Committee plans to ask the National Assembly to form a special committee to probe poaching.
"The situation is tense but we are determined not to allow any reverse in the population of wild animals. We will do it the best way we know how," Mr Nyalandu told the 'Daily News' over the phone yesterday. Given its complexity, Mr Nyalandu said the ministry has embarked massively on intelligence operations and involvement of local and international stakeholders.
He was reacting on the accusations levelled against the ministry by the Permanent Parliamentary Committee on Land, Tourism and Environment that it has remained silent while poaching activities continue. The Committee Chairman, Mr James Lembeli (Kahama- CCM), said on Tuesday that his team was disgusted by what he termed as the government's failure to stem poaching.
"Poaching is different from ordinary theft, it is somehow complicated with so many syndicates and that is why we cannot be open in the techniques we are employing in stopping this crime," said Mr Nyalandu. He said reports that circulated over the weekend over the Tanzania People's Defence Forces (TPDF) soldier who was arrested and being held on allegations of poaching was evidence that poaching has taken a new twist.
The officer was arrested by Lake Manyara National Park rangers after a vehicle he was driving overturned during a car chase. He was reportedly found with two pieces of ivory. "We are going an extra mile now, suspecting anyone because this is a complicated area and it is demand driven since parts of the animals removed by poachers such as ivories are very expensive in the world market," he said.
Mr Nyalandu said the ministry is working closely with CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), Interpol and various countries which have appeared to be popular destinations for poached trophies. He called on the MPs to appreciate what the government is doing and support the initiatives being taken.
Mr Lembeli told reporters on Tuesday that his committee was awaiting a government report on the Lake Manyara incident. "We expect to meet the minister soon over the incident. Hopefully, he will give us the government's action plan to rein in the poachers. But if the government fails to meet our expectations, we know what to do to compel it to act," he said.
The Lake Manyara National Park incident came two weeks after the arrest of police officers in Serengeti National Park. Two others were lynched days later in connection with trade in ivories, evidence that the problem is complex and involves a complicated network.