Govt probing increase in tuskless elephants (Tanzania)


By Lusekelo Philemon, IPP Media

Date Published
Mahmoud Hassan Mgimwa, Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism
Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mahmoud Hassan Mgimwa
has said the government is set to carry-out  extensive research, which
is geared to find reasons behind the increasing number of tusk-less
elephants in the country’s national parks.
The Deputy Minister was when responding to a question by Ole MP, Rajab
Mbarouk Mohamed (CUF), who wanted to know the government’s research
strategies on finding the scale of the problem and the remedial measures.
Responding, the minister said all elephants after birth were without
tusks, but after 18 months a male elephant gets its tusks while a female
one gets it at between 24 and 30 months.
“However, DNA tests carried out had shown that some elephants fail to
develop tusks.”
“It is true there are reports which show the increasing number of
elephants which have no tusks in our national parks. Right now, the
Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) is carrying-out ongoing
research on the reasons as to why there is an increasing number of
tusk-less elephants in our parks, particularly in the national parks
within  Mikumi, Ruaha and Katavi.”
He however revealed that a survey which has been carried out in Mikumi
National Park in 2014 (January, February,May and June) involved 16
groups of 59 jumbos.
According to Mgimwa, a total of 950 jumbos (an average of six elephants
per group), which is about 10.21 per cent of elephants which were tusk-less.
“This number is within the normal boundary of tusk-less elephants in
other African countries which are from 2 per cent to 20 percent,” the
minister said.
He said preliminary investigations show that there is increasing number
of tusk-less elephants.
“But, the study was only meant to prove the reports on the increasing
number of tusk-less elephants and wasn’t meant to show that the increase
was because of poaching in our national parks, and also it wasn’t meant
to show the scale of the problem across the country and its impact.”
“By using this preliminary survey, the government will set aside a
certain amount of money for carrying-out extensive study to find out the
reasons for the increasing number tusk-less elephants,” the minister said.
Mgimwa revealed that in the past, game rangers used to kill elephants
which have no tusks, “but we stopped that and this might be the reason
for the increasing number tusk-less elephants.