Elephant poaching, tourism and politics in Tanzania



Date Published

TANZANIA (eTN) – Ahead of Tanzania’s general election in late October, opposition presidential hopeful, Edward Lowassa, has vowed to end poaching of elephants and trade in blood ivory.

Mr. Lowassa, who is vying for the Tanzania presidential post under the ticket of the leading opposition Chadema party, had vowed to see elephant poaching and illegal trade in blood ivory get thrown into the archives when elected to the top post, to lead this African wildlife-rich nation.
He blamed the current government under the ruling CCM party for hibernating corrupt elements known to carry out poaching of elephants and trade in blood ivory, and also the illegal trade of live animals.
The ardent politician and former Tanzanian Prime Minister told his supporters and hundreds of thousands of excited voters that poaching of elephants and destruction of forests were areas his new government will be committed to ending.
He said during his election campaign in Tanzania’s capital city of Dar es Salaam that his new government will ensure a sustainable conservation practice to protect Tanzania’s forests and wildlife parks, which constitutes about 300,000 square kilometers of nature-protected land.
Mr. Lowassa told the biggest crowd of enthusiasts every observed that he was committed to attract tourists and travel trade investments to establish hotels and tourist accommodation facilities in Tanzania as a plan to attract 2 million tourists during the next 5 years against the 1.2 million tourists recorded this year.
In line with the establishment of premium tourist hotels and lodges, the Tanzania’s presidential hopeful said his new government will strive to train more local graduates in the hospitality industry as a means to raise productivity in tourism.
He accused the CCM government for embracing corruption which had made Tanzania lose its elephants at a rocket speed. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), also known as the World Wildlife Fund in the US and Canada, along with the Africa Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and Save the Elephant, reported that around 99,000 to 100,000 elephants were gunned down between 2005 to 2015 inside Tanzania’s protected and unprotected areas.
The opposition Chadema party had voiced its concern in the Tanzanian parliament, accusing the government of Tanzania over laxity, corruption, and inefficiency among officials in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism which led to escalating poaching of elephants and poor performance in the tourism industry.
The Shadow Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Peter Msigwa, from the liberal opposition Chadema party, has been vocal on a poaching spree, looking to see the CCM government end elephant slaughtering and illegal exportation of live animals.
He once provided data showing the gravity of the poaching of elephants, trade in blood ivory, and export of live animals from this country to the Middle East, China, Vietnam, Singapore, and other South Asian states.
Mr. Msigwa claimed that all indications point to the fact that poaching is now beyond the control of the Tanzania government under CCM’s corrupt policies.
Mr. Lowassa also promised to establish a viable airline to take over from the ailing Air Tanzania (ATC), Tanzania’s national air carrier, which is operating at a loss and dependent on subsidies from taxpayer money.
Established in 1977, this airline remains just a name now, and has had its most domestic, regional, and international routes captured by private and foreign-registered airlines.
Mr. Lowassa also vowed to restructure and revive the historical Central Railway line built by Germans 104 years ago. This rail cuts across the center of Tanzania and is best for tourist excursions, but has been neglected by the CCM government in favor of truck owners.
Likewise, the coalition of the opposition party leaders had accused the ruling CCM party for embracing foreignization policies in favor of foreign investments which had given corrupt investors an open path to transfer huge sums of money to offshore accounts, leaving Tanzanians poorer and a wider gap between the rich and the poor growing.
Together with the liberal Chadema leaders, the opposition coalition blamed the current CCM led-government for massive divestiture of once leading state-owned companies in favor of incompetent investors, saying the ruling party’s neo-communist ideologies had plunged Tanzania into an abyss of abject poverty, corruption, and theft of public funds.
Local media outlets and the opposition side are accusing the ruling party’s economic policies favoring unscrupulous foreign investors who had robbed this country from its natural resources, changing Tanzania into a “Squandered Eden.”
They as well blamed the government for its failure to solve the long-existing conflicts between pastoralists, farmers, and wildlife conservators in areas or localities bordering tourist and wildlife parks, looking for Mr. Lowassa to solve these conflicts.
Tanzania will hold its general, presidential election in late October to elect a new head of state and members of parliament after the ten-year term of the outgoing president Mr. Jakaya Kikwete.