Tag Archives: rhino

Tanzania: Corruption in High Office Nourishes Poaching

By Lawi Joel,Tanzania Daily News

3 March 2014

POACHING of the wildlife in the country has become a runaway evil that allegedly enriches politicians and civil servants in the corridors of power.

Despite people’s hollers — that population of the rare and endangered species like rhinos, leopards and the elephants are declining fast, national efforts to curb the illegal trade have not made a dent in the vice as more ivory is seized almost every too often.

For some reason, ivory and rhino horn trade has recently spiralled, prompting the government and stakeholders to step up the fight against poaching. But the fight is proving futile as poaching apparently escalates.

President Kikwete told Parliament recently that at independence, the country had an elephant population of 350,000, but hardly twenty years later, the number declined to 55,000.

Quite a drastic fall! Evidently, attempts to check poaching have failed as by 2009, only 10,000 elephants remained in the country. Sometime last year, the government reacted with Operation Tokomeza, an exercise to check poaching and unearth illegal foreigners to bolster security in the country.

But the operation made merely a slight impact on poaching and was seriously mal-implemented by various authorities. The government responded by stopping the operation.

Seemingly, poachers waited for the government’s fury to abate and no sooner had the operation stopped, they killed more than 60 elephants.

The arrest of three Chinese nationals in Dar es Salaam last November with a stockpile of 797 tusks proved that poaching was a free-for-all illegal business.

However, it was a bitter truth for the nation’s economy because that entire trophy meant 400 elephants had been killed. Poachers apparently took advantage of the government’s laxity in fighting the crime.

Critics would have it no other way more than the accusation that the state organs are not being responsible enough.

Whatever reasons given, poaching of the country’s wildlife has alarmingly increased, posing a bleak future for various endangered species. Events have shown that when the authorities are keen in their work of preventing poaching, the elephant population and those of other species threatened with disappearance, increase.

In 1987, when the government launched a major anti-poaching operation, the slaughter of elephants in the country declined sharply and the numbers increased from 55,000 in 1989 to 110,000 in 2009.

Evidence shows that a ban on ivory trade favours increase of elephants. When in the mid-20th century the number of tuskers declined to about 600, 000 from millions by the end of the 1980s, the International trade in ivory was banned in 1989.

The sudden, drastic fall in elephants’ population in 2009 shows that something is seriously amiss with the relevant authorities. Various reasons are advanced for the escalation of ivory trade.

Its market in China and elsewhere in the Far East is alleged to have grown. But the government does not have the wherewithal to adequately check poaching, not only in its biggest national game reserve– Selous, with the size of 232,535 square kilometres — the size of United Kingdom, but in other reserves and game parks as well.

“A new census at the Selous- Mikumi ecosystem has revealed that the elephant population had plummeted to just 13,084 from 38,975 in 2009, representing a 66-per cent decline,” he said in the report.

Endorsing the government’s fear — that it was fighting a losing battle — was a seizure of 20 tonnes of ivory within a period of only three years – from 2010 to 2013. Game Rangers to fight poaching in game reserves are small in number and are overwhelmed by the huge patrolling task of the wild land.

Poachers have taken the government’s inadequacies and wreaked havoc on the wildlife, decimating populations of endangered species to significant numbers. Late last year, the president gave at the State House in Dar es Salaam a report that portrayed the enormity of the problem.

In this scenario, Tanzania obviously needs assistance to fight poaching. Nations which stand well to provide that assistance are its big political and economical friends like China, America and the UK.

The states can help eradicate market for ivory and other wildlife trophies within them. In that regard, Kikwete has roundly stated: “We need technical assistance, funding and technology to … enable us to employ more game rangers and to give us modern technology to tackle poachers.”

However, allegation that stalwart politicians and other government officials in position of power participate in poaching of wildlife, shows that fighting the evil is both a complicated and difficult war.

Rangers have been implicated in poaching and recently some of them were fired for involvement in the illicit business. Even more tarnishing to the government is allegation that police officers too, take part in the dirty and disastrous activity.

The undertone here is that corruption is the major obstacle in the whole in the fight against poaching. One thing is certain here.

With the apparent laxity and the present reign of greed for fast riches, the elephant is certainly on its way out into oblivion, and if any friend can and must help, it is China.

Tanzania: Anti-Poaching Officer in Kiteto Deserves Award

By Deogratias Mushi, Tanzania Daily News

28 July 2013

PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete’s words of encouragement uttered in Kaboya Barracks in Muleba district, Kagera region on Thursday consoled me.

He assured people not to fear going about their day to day businesses, as the army is ready to defend the country’s borders at all times and under any circumstances. At least that gives me hope, I should not fear moving around going about my normal daily activities, ensuring that my family does not starve in any way, while the nation takes a step forward in development.

As the president was preparing to travel to Kagera, some people working under him were making sure that they were improving the lives of Tanzanians. But not all that were adhering to the president’s directives to deliver social services ethically. They instead decided to satisfy their egoistic motives, and violated work ethics to fill their big stomachs.

Three prison wardens in Kiteto district in Manyara region collaborated with evil civilians and killed two giraffes, two ostriches, two zebras, a Thomson gazelle, all valued at over 55m/-. Recently as Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda was winding up his seven-day visit in Ruvuma region he expressed anger over poachers killing elephants in Selous National Park and called for the regional administration to take such law defaulters to book.

For the last three weeks, TBC 1 reporter in Ruvuma Region Gasto Msigwa has shown heaps of tusks in police custody, thanks to efforts made by the Ruvuma Regional Police Commander (RPC) Deusdedit Nsimeki, who has even gone as far as awarding cash to people who reveal names of poachers. Under ordinary circumstances, it is hard to arrest a colleague but Paschal Mrina arrested prison wardens who used a government vehicle, a Toyota Land-Cruiser with registration number STK 4394 in their malevolence.

The culprits are none other than Kimaro Joseph Sauli, Richard Barick Peter and Silvester Dionis Bukha. He listed other suspects who are civilians as Abubakari Ngaula, Hamza Mdachi, Saidi Iddi and Hosseni Gola, who are all Kiteto residents who were found in possession of a gun belonging to the Prison department. I propose that Paschal Mrina is named our national hero this year, as he went beyond the call of duty and arrested the prison wardens who had killed wildlife.

Law enforcement officers turned out to be law breakers. Watching TBC 1 report filed by Ben Mwaipaja from Manyara recently, it is heartening to see that our nation still has obedient and faithful servants like Mrina and his team who made sure that the law takes its natural course and went ahead and arrested the poachers.

It is strongly believed that a sophisticated network of rich persons and fear discourages the public from “naming and shaming” poachers thus fuelling illegal hunting in the country. Mr Mrina has proven that the war against poachers is possible.

The minister for Tourism and Natural Resources, Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki once said at a seminar for senior media personnel that poaching is depleting our valuable natural resources, especially elephants and rhinos in our game reserves and national parks. Very unfortunately, this business involves rich people who have formed a very sophisticated network that collaborates with a few government officials as it was in the case in Kiteto recently.

Although the tourism ministry is determined to combat poaching, including taking punitive measures against individuals involved in this malpractice, irrespective of their social status, time has now come to emulate the example shown by Mr Mrina in Kiteto. If deliberate, concerted efforts are not taken by stakeholders, including the government, the media and general public to expose individuals engaging in poaching, elephants and rhinos will soon be extinct.

The media and general public should join the battle and start naming individuals who poach without fear. Ambassador Kagasheki was recently told the media; “It’s now time to name and shame people engaging in this menace. Even if it is me, say it. We must fight against this scourge at all costs,” Ambassador Kagasheki should recognise and award the anti-poaching unit in Kiteto district. Government should take serious steps to combat poaching by deploying armed personnel and camera-equipped drones to engage in anti-poaching operations.

A report recently submitted to and discussed by parliament in Dodoma makes stark reading and confirms what has been rumoured for long, that the rate of poaching is way higher than Tanzanian officials admit. Between 2006 and 2009 as many as 30,000 elephants, many from the poorly guarded Selous park were killed.

These elephants are often killed right under the very noses of law enforcement officers, casting a dark shadow over the country’s commitment to conservation. According to the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, poaching has drastically reduced the elephant population to fewer than 70,000 in 2012 from about 109,000 in 2009.

The government cannot fight poaching war in isolation. There is a need to join hands as Tanzanians to fight poachers as a way to preserve our natural resources. Let us build the habit of reporting incidents that endanger our natural resources.

Zimbabwe: Conservancy ‘Decimated’ By Land Invaders

Zimbabwe: Conservancy ‘Decimated’ By Land Invaders

Alex Bell, SW Radio Africa

30 September 2011

Land invasions at the Chiredzi River Conservancy are escalating out of control, with warnings that the area faces catastrophe if nothing is done to stop the destruction.

The Conservancy forms part of the Trans Frontier Conservation Area which is the world’s largest inter-regional conservation park, encompassing land from Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe. But in Zimbabwe lawlessness and the illegal seizure of land means areas like the Chiredzi River Conservancy are being destroyed.

Hundreds of land invaders have moved into the Conservancy and have caused serious damage to the delicate ecosystem there. The invaders have been tearing down trees, destroying the foliage and poaching the animals in the conservancy, in a surge of destruction that could be irreparable.

Charles Taffs, the President of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), told SW Radio Africa on Friday that they are “hugely concerned,” especially regarding the “tragedy facing the elephant herd there.” He explained that a herd of 70 elephants are being harassed, threatened and hunted by the land invaders, with no intervention from the government.

“The animals’ territory is being completely taken over. Wherever they go they get chased by people with burning sticks and dogs. They can’t even get a drink of water because their watering holes have been polluted by people using the water to wash,” Taffs explained.

Some of the elephants have already been slaughtered, and Taffs warned that they face being wiped out if no one intervenes. He explained that local councils have now threatened to kill the animals, because they are leaving their territory in search of safety, putting them on the path of local villages.

“This is totally out of control and everything is being totally destroyed. It destroys the area, it destroys tourism, and it destroys whatever reputation Zimbabwe might have. It is like the land reform programme all over again in that no one has won, everyone has lost,” Taffs said.

SW Radio Africa has also been told that the rapid clearing of the conservation areas is causing serious environmental degradation, including severe erosion, massive deforestation, destructive fires, along with the rampant poaching. The land invaders are said to be using poison, snares and dogs to hunt for game, causing extreme suffering to the wildlife.

“The coalition government cannot allow the lawlessness and destruction of Zimbabwe’s heritage, our future and that of our children to continue. It is critical that they now take a stand, resolve the escalating crisis and restore the rule of law,” Taffs said.

You can see this article here