A good hope to save elephants in Tanzania comes to light


Apolinari Tairo, eTN Tanzania

Date Published
Stakeholders in wildlife conservation are looking to see the government of Tanzania to impose a total ban of tourist hunting for elephant products and auctioning of ivory stockpile as a permanent solution to save the African jumbos.

Leading environmental protection campaigner and a businessman in Tanzania Reginald Mengi told participants of the ongoing special conference on elephant protection in Tanzania that a total ban of tourist hunting for elephant products would help to minimize poaching of African jumbos.

He said tourist hunting for elephant trophies in Tanzania has been corrupted by a section of hunting companies through poaching of elephants in open areas outside protected wildlife parks.

Mengi told the conference on Friday that the ongoing debate on whether Tanzania should auction its 120 tons of ivory stockpile will fuel poaching in case the government of Tanzania decides to sale by auction the ivory lot.

Tanzania has a reserve of 120 tons of elephant tusks stocked in a wildlife store in Dar es Salaam.

The two-day elephant conservation conference has been organized by the Tanzania government in collaboration with the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF) of the United States of America and the United Nations Development Program.

This conference is taking place in Tanzania’s capital city of Dar es Salaam and had attracted national and international stakeholders in conservation of wildlife.

Poaching has escalated at an alarming rate in Africa during the past 20 years, threatening disappearance of African jumbos, increased in recent years.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said in its recent report that increasing poaching levels and loss of habitat are threatening the survival of elephants in Africa while the price of ivory on the black market had increased tenfold to more than $2,000 per kilogram, wildlife conservationists pointed out.

Tanzania’s elephant population declined from 109,000 elephants in 2009 to the current estimate of less than 70,000 elephants in 2012. That is at a rate of more than 10,000 elephants poached per year.

It is estimated that 30 elephants are killed per day or 10,950 elephants are killed per year. If this slaughter is allowed to continue unabated, elephants in Tanzania will face a total extinction by year 2020, according to wildlife experts.

Tanzania, one of the world’s last great repositories of elephants has about 70,000 to 80,000 elephants roaming this nation’s 37 game reserves, leaving alone those in protected national parks. Tanzania has about a quarter of all African elephants.

Tanzanian minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Lazaro Nyalandu said 20 percent of elephants in this country live and roam in open, unprotected areas where game rangers have little access.