Tourism sector stakeholders in the private sector have lauded efforts made by Tanzania’s National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit (NTSCIU) following the recent arrest of a Chinese woman believed to be behind massive elephant poaching for ivory.
Reports about Yang Feng Clan’s (66) arraignment in court in connection with a $2.5m (Sh5.4bn) ivory made front page news last week in both local and international media.
The Executive Secretary of Tourism Confederation of Tanzania (TCT), Richard Rugimbana, commended the initiative, saying poaching was of grave concern in the country.
Hotels Association of Tanzania (HAT) CEO, Lathifa Sykes, for his part, reiterated that the efforts and positive move by NTSCIU to arrest the Chinese woman could not be taken lightly.
According to her, this showed that poaching could be curbed with more support and resources from the government and other tourism stakeholder to NTSCIU.
“This opportunity will help to serve as a warning to others that it is possible to arrest them and thus protect the country’s resources,” she said.
“The way in which her case is being handled and the final judgment will send a clear message to other poachers that they should not continue with the criminal acts,” she added.
She said events from now would serve to confirm if there was ‘political wil’ to stop poaching once and for all in this country.
Another tourism stakeholder commented that “the news comes at an opportune time for Tanzania. It shows that our government is indeed listening and the formation of NTSCIU was instrumental to the successful arrest of the ‘queen of ivory’”.
“We appreciate NTSCIU for its good work in the country, especially in southern and western Tanzania,” she said.
Mohamed Abdulkadir, chairman of TCT, noted that Tanzania’s tourism industry had suffered severely from the loss of wildlife and the continued wanton destruction of the nation’s natural resources.
“Tanzania is now ranked 7th in tourism and natural resources globally while we were second in 2011,” he said.
“Wildlife is the catalyst that draws tourists to Tanzania and because of it Tanzania’s tourism industry today is a significant contributor to the GDP and the number-one foreign exchange earner for the country. Tourism in Tanzania employs one-third of the nation’s labour force,” he stressed.
“Fighting and winning the war against prominent disruptive activities such as poaching, dynamite fishing and deforestation is fundamental to ensuring that our biodiversity and renewable resources will last and benefit the country and its people for millennia,” he added.
The Tanzania National Business Council (TNBC) Tourism Task Force, formed early 2014 after the 7th TNBC meeting chaired by president Jakaya Kikwete, recently presented and highlighted the severity of some problems by urging the government to declare as national security threats crimes such as poaching, dynamite fishing and poisoning, and encroachment on wildlife areas, forest and water sources. The task force further urged the government to come up with stiff laws for more serious environmental crimes.