THE Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism has said that not all elephant tusks seized abroad originate from Tanzania, although some in deed passed through the country.
A ministry's spokesperson said that sometimes the country happened to be used as a transit route by offenders from different parts of the world.
"There have been perceptions that all elephant tusks seized abroad are from Tanzania, but the truth is that some just passed through the country," said the Ministry's Acting Head of Communications, Ms Doreen Makaya.
She was responding to questions from journalists on the magnitude of elephants poaching and seizure of tusks globally at a news conference in Dar es Salaam.
Remarks by the official comes days after the government was advised to amend the Wildlife Conservation Act of 2009 to provide for stern penalties to poachers and traders in elephant tusks in a bid to protect the wild animals from extinction.
The population of elephants in Tanzania is declining at a fast pace after improvement following a joint-operation by security forces against poachers codenamed "Operation Uhai " in 1989.
"The amendment of the law is necessary to ensure that penalties for killing elephants and trading in ivory serve as deterrent effect," World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Country Director Bell'Aube Houinato proposed. According to the conservationist, elephants make one out of five attractions that tourists visiting national and game parks would want to watch.
"Tarangire, Ruaha and Mikumi National Parks and Selous Game Reserve are amongst areas that are famous for big herds of elephants but these are now threatened due to escalating poaching and trade of tusks fuelled by demand in Far East nations," the WWF country chief noted.
Since the year 2009, Tanzania has been implicated as part of the trade route for over 38 tonnes of ivory that was seized in 16 large-scale seizure cases globally. "Of the 16 cases globally, only three seizures were made by authorities in Tanzania.
The remaining 13 seizures were made in other countries namely China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam among others but all the tusks originated from Tanzania.
"We must also improve law enforcement for wildlife trade crime in Tanzania knowing that at least four out of five contraband of ivory shipments successfully leave Tanzania without detection," Mr Houinato said.