12 March 2016

Tanzania: Govt to Form Special Force to Fight Poaching

Tanzania is working on a new security strategy that will help curb poaching of elephants and other crimes against wildlife within and outside protected areas.

The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Jumanne Maghembe said the new security strategy will involve training a special force that will be equipped with modern and high-tech surveillance equipment to detect elephant poachers and other criminals operating inside Tanzania's protected parks.

Prof Maghembe said the government is currently changing the working system of game rangers to allow them to handle and use modern anti-poaching weapons and surveillance equipment.

The strategy will be fully implemented early next year. The strategy will enable Tanzania to increase its high elephant herd numbers. Other African countries with big herds of elephants are Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

"From next year, we will form a new task force that will be more effective and better equipped to fight poachers across Tanzania," said Prof Maghembe.

Campaign promise

During his presidential campaign rallies in 2015, President John Magufuli vowed to end elephant poaching and said he will ensure that each ranger is assigned 30 elephants to protect and will be held responsible for their killing.

The president appointed Major General Gaudence Milanzi as the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and promised that the army-man will deal with poachers.

Conservationists estimate that more than 13,000 elephants were poached in Tanzania in 2015 alone.

Commemorating the World Elephant Day in August 2015, conservationists put the number of elephants killed by poachers between 2011 and 2015 at about 65,721.

"The increase in elephant poaching is linked to an increase in ivory prices and the growth of illegal markets in the Far East and South East Asia," said Amani Ngusaru, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Tanzania country director.

"Elephant poaching has increased dramatically in recent years, threatening sustainable development, peace and human rights," said Dr Ngusaru.

Between 1970 and 1980 poaching and killing of elephants in Tanzania saw their population decline to 55,000. However, the international ban on the sale of ivory and other elephant products together with highly effective anti-poaching operations resulted in elephant populations increasing to an estimated 130,000 in 2005 and 110,000 in 2009, according to WWF in Tanzania.


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