State to conduct DNA tests Task force formed on ivory stockpile (Tanzania)


Marc Nkwame, Daily News

Date Published
TANZANIA will spend about 28 million/- to conduct DNA mapping on the entire ivory stockpile, Natural Resources and Tourism Minister, Mr Lazaro Nyalandu revealed on Saturday.
The country currently harbours ivory stockpile, weighing over 100 metric tonnes and comprising of thousands of stored elephant tusks that have been accumulating over the last 25 years.
Tanzania is home to nearly 110,000 live jumbos. The ivories are estimated to be valued at 60 million US dollars (about 100 billion/- ) and while experts point out that, it is expensive to store, maintain and protect these highly sought after trophies, the minister insists that the tusks will be kept under guard for future generations.
Now with assistance from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Tanzania will invest over 28 million/- to run DNA tests on the ivories and catalogue the stockpile into various segments.
“We shall sort the tusks into different piles separating those extracted from elephants that died of old age from the ones that were killed as well as deciding how old the animals were, their geographical locations and species,” said Mr Nyalandu adding that each of the ivories will also be clearly labelled.
And the government has reiterated its stand of neither selling nor destroying the hoard with the minister insisting that the tusk consignments were being treated as state trophies owned by the People of Tanzania.
In 2011, the immediate neighbour, Kenya, set ablaze more than 5 tonnes of the country’s ivory tusks and related trinkets. Early this year, China crushed into powder more than six metric tonnes of tusks, ivory ornaments and carvings in a highly lauded exercise which took place in southern Guangdong province, where much of China’s ivory trade is focused.
Reports had it that the destroyed ivory were confiscated shipments from Africa intercepted by customs officers as well as those from some 400 carving factories and shops in China.
Meanwhile, the French Head of State, François Nicolas Hollande, has written to President Jakaya Kikwete lauding the latter on his country’s conservation efforts and the task being undertaken by the government to preserve the world heritage for the benefit of whole mankind.
The French President’s official dispatch was read during the just ended Regional Summit to stop Wildlife Crime and Advance Wildlife Conservation which was officially opened by Mr Nyalandu on behalf of President Kikwete at the East African Community Headquarters here.
President Kikwete in his speech disclosed to the over 200 delegates attending the Summit that his government had formulated a National Strategy to Combat Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade in order to intensify the war against poaching and all forms of wildlife related crime.
The strategy provides an effective programme of support to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking in Tanzania through a three-pronged approach, namely; strengthening law enforcement; increase capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities and eradicate poverty; and raising awareness in supply, transit and destination countries to help change attitudes towards wildlife crime and building international support.
The EAC Secretary General, Dr Richard Sezibera, said that the tourism industry contributes close to 10 per cent of the foreign exchange required by the EAC Partner States.
“Despite this importance, the tourism sector is still one of those greatly threatened by several factors ranging from poaching, illegal wildlife trafficking, deforestation and habitat shrinkage, climate change and global economic meltdown”, he noted.
Dr Sezibera said poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking robs EAC Partner States of their natural capital and cultural heritage with serious economic and social consequences.
“It undermines the livelihoods of dependent communities and damages the health of the ecosystems they depend on”.
Other delegates were of the view that the high levels of poverty, weak governance (measured by law enforcement capacity and corruption) together with demand for ivory in developed nations were the factors said to be linked to higher poaching levels and that, as a region, there is need to put in place robust policies to curb the menace.
The EAC Official affirmed to the delegates that, as a region, a draft strategy to combat poaching and illicit trade in wildlife had been put in place.
The objective of the strategy, among others, is to strengthen policy and legislation framework in combating poaching and trafficking of wildlife and wildlife products; to develop and enhance human resource capacity in wildlife conservation and wildlife laws enforcement; and strengthen the regional and international collaboration in combating poaching and trafficking of wildlife resources.