Tanzania: Harsher Penalties for Poachers Trumpeted


By Christopher Majaliwa, Tanzania Daily News

Date Published

A CABINET Minister has called for a review and amendment of existing antipoaching laws to provide for harsher and deterrent penalties against culprits.

Deputy Natural Resources and Tourism Minister, Mahmoud Mgimwa, said efforts by the government to end poaching were likely to fail, unless the Judiciary was more empowered to mete harsher penalties through a review of the existing laws.

In an interview with the ‘Daily News’, Mr Mgimwa pointed out that though the current laws were loose and needed to be immediately amended, the magistrates who handle such cases also disappointed the ministry’s efforts to curb poaching.

The deputy minister said that the rulings passed by the courts against proven poachers or their accomplices did not match with the gravity of the offence.

“The Judiciary is not being fair at all; they should mete harsher punishments to these criminals to serve as a lesson to proven and would-be offenders,” he opined.

Mr Mgimwa said that the ministry was in the process of drafting stricter laws, believing that once such regulations become effective and the Judiciary applies them, the problem would be tamed.

“We can have stringent laws but if the implementing agencies are not responsible, it is obvious that we can’t win this fight,” he added.

He noted that there are four things that must be considered to make any operation viable namely policy, laws, guidelines and patriotism, calling for serious commitment from every player involved in the antipoaching drive.

Mr Mgimwa’s remarks were fueled by the decision reached by the Ilala District Court on Tuesday, in which two Chinese nationals were sentenced to five years in jail or pay a fine of 1m/- for illegal possession of items made of elephant’s tusks.

“This is not fair and it must be understood that this organ is not doing justice to us. With all these efforts by the government, spearheaded by the president, it is absurd to still see that there is a fine option for proven poachers,” the deputy minister lamented.

He said that this was unacceptable much as he did not challenge the ruling. But we at least need to be rational,” he remarked. The Attorney General (AG), Mr Fredrick Werema, also said that there were problems with the current laws as “they are so friendly, thus rendering the antipoaching drive difficult.”

“Because it is a policy issue, I am sure the ministry will soon bring before the Parliament a bill seeking to toughen such laws,” Mr Werema noted.

According to the Wildlife Conservation Act (WCA) number 5 of 2009, a person found to have engaged in illegal hunting have to face Imprisonment from five to ten years and/or a fine ranging from 500,000/- (about US$315) to 2m/- (about US$1260).

The law also imposes bans on dealing in a trophy, manufacturing an article from a trophy for sale or carrying on the business of a trophy dealer without a licence.

It also bans accepting, buying, manufacturing an article from, selling or transferring an unregistered trophy and transferring a trophy without a permit.

“Violation of any of these provisions is an offence punishable by two to five-year imprisonment and/or a fine equivalent to twice the value of the trophy,” the WCA states.

It adds: “If the offence involves the import, export or re-exports of a trophy in violation of the above bans or CITES provisions, the trophy is subject to confiscation.


Article at the following link: