Rangers at Manyara National Park nabbed two elephant poachers on Thursday as they fell into a trap while sneaking out to sell the fresh 54kg cache of ivories worth Sh64m.
Chief Park Warden Domician Njau said his troops had been working round the clock to contain poaching in the park highly integrated with human settlements that they finally pinned down Jamal Saidi and Damas Komba in possession of the cache in the evening.
He said the park’s closeness to the Rift Valley made it easier for the poachers to find their way into the area to freely main elephants and other endangered species.
“This has compelled us to put surveillance centres on the rift valley to trace the poachers,” he said.
The elephant poaching daily rate of 30 elephants risks their total extinction by 2020, he said referring to 2014 census by Tanzania’s Elephant Protection Society.
By June last year, a number of jumbos in national parks and game reserves across the country stood at 43,500 from 110,000 in the previous five years ago, the report revealed.
Alan Kijazi, chief of Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) under whose jurisdiction are all national parks, commended the park wardens for the good job, though he was short of comparative figures on the rate at which poachers were apprehended.
But last October, a Chinese woman Yang Feng Glan alias Queen of Ivory, 66, was arrested and charged with smuggling at least 706 elephant tusks that authorities said were worth more than $2m (Sh5.4bn).
Queen who allegedly ran a sophisticated supply chain between East Africa and China for about 10 years was dubbed as the most notorious ivory trafficker ever arrested in East Africa.
She allegedly came to Tanzania 40 years ago as Swahili-Chinese translator when China was starting to build the Tazara railway line, but got involved in ivory smuggling in 2006, according to Elephant Action League task force.