7 February 2013

Tanzania: U.S Pledge to Help Curb Poaching Most Welcome

cvTHE pledge by the United States to provide technical support to Tanzania in the effort to eliminate game poaching is good news indeed. Despite incessant efforts to curb poaching, it still seems an uphill task, with the criminals in it very much on the vice.

Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Khamis Kagasheki and the Deputy Secretary, US Department of the Interior, Mr David Hayes, signed a memorandum of understanding early this week that aims at curbing poaching in Tanzania.

According to statistics, poachers kill an average of 30 elephants a day. This is incredible; this is chilling, to say the least. In fact, poachers have over the years been roaming in our national parks almost at will killing wild animals and stealing government trophies. Sometimes they cart away live animals.

The government has, from time to time, attempted to flush them out. But poachers remain a step or two ahead of state operatives. Fortunately, the criminals are not always the winners. Last year, government trophies worth 212.9m/- were impounded in a special operation to fight poaching in Liwale District.

The seizure was made by a Special Joint Task Force formed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. The operation seized 80 firearms, 685 rounds of ammunition and 298 shell castings. This was a laudable effort but a lot more needs to be done.

The team attributed the success to support from members of the public. A total of 101 suspects were apprehended and arraigned in courts of law. The types of firearms seized included one SAR, 16 rifles, and 63 shotguns.

A huge arsenal, indeed! The crack team employed scientific intelligence gathering techniques that resulted in the capture of the 101 culprits. It is hats off to the team. The operation in Liwale will be the leading example for similar exercises to be conducted countrywide.

This is the way to go. Poachers can only be controlled through better coordination, incisive use of better equipment and other stringent measures. Such measures include enlisting the services of Tanzania Wildlife Service (TWS).

We understand that the government is also in the process of reviewing the 2005 Wildlife Conservation Act, a move that will include introduction of provisions that will call for stiffer penalties, longer prison terms and higher fines for anyone involved in poaching. The sooner this is achieved the better.

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