28 March 2013

Tanzania: International Ivory Demand Fuels Poaching

HIGHER demand for ivory in international markets has been blamed for increased poaching and destruction of natural resources in Tanzania.

According to Mwanza Regional Commissioner, Mr Evarist Ndikilo, intervention from international communities to stop those markets and save wildlife and natural attractions from extermination is now a matter of urgency. "Tanzania is second richest country in natural attractions after Brazil, but that status will soon perish if poaching is allowed to flourish," he said.

Various countries in Southern Asia and Far East have been alleged to provide good markets for game products including elephant tusks, rhino trophies, skin and hides.

The Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) Managing Director, Mr Allan Kijazi, said at a workshop which also invited regional commissioners and district commissioners, directors of game reserves from Saanane Island ,Mahale, Serengeti, Katavi, Gombe, Rubondo Island and regional administrative officers, aimed to find best means of protecting reserved areas by involving communities living near them.

"Having close ties with communities living near reserves will help us to find solutions to various problems, including poaching," he said. During the meeting stakeholders lauded the government's visionary decisions on natural resources as 40 per cent of its land is now properly reserved for both wildlife and biodiversity.

An increasing amount of animals are being poached in the various reserved areas of Tanzania. Acknowledging that poaching is widespread in Tanzania, Mr Kijazi said he was concerned by rising levels of illegal hunting across the country, highlighting Tarangire and Lake Manyara national parks as being particularly badly affected.

"Tanapa is working with local communities in its battle against poaching -- which I believe could threaten the country's tourism industry," he said.

The number of elephants in two wildlife sanctuaries in Tanzania has fallen by nearly 42 per cent in just three years, a census showed as poachers increasingly killed the animals for their tusks. The census at the Selous Game Reserve and Mikumi National Park revealed elephant numbers had plunged to 43,552 in 2009 from 74,900 in 2006.

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