GOVERNMENT has announced a reduction by 50 per cent of the hunting quota of elephants effective July this year to pave way for population growth of the jumbos.
Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu said that since the country and the region at large faces the serious challenge of poaching and illegal trade in wildlife products, it has become necessary to exercise control on professional hunting.
During round-table discussion in Dar es Salaam yesterday with the American Ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Mark Childress, Nyalandu said, “We have gathered here today to share views as we have a problem.
We are fighting a battle against enemies who are well equipped and coordinated. We are determined to win the battle,” Nyalandu said.
He was explicit on the difference between trophy hunting and poaching insisting that the 50 per cent reduction is meant to allow an increase in number of the elephants.
However, the minister did not specify for how long the quota hunting reduction would persist before allowed in full swing.
Clarifying on the coordinated nature of operation by poachers, the minister said findings have revealed that they are divided in five different groups but operate as one.
“The first group is equipped with mobile phones who cannot easily be tracked down are dressed in Maasai attire. They move around scouting in the bush locating elephants.
They pass information to sharp shooters who arrive at the scene like eagles,” he explained.
Delegates to the meeting comprising high ranking officials from the ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and those from the American Embassy in addition to other invited guests were informed that group three comprised of dehorning ‘experts’ who after hacking off the tusks inform group four who are transporters to deliver the consignment to exports fully engaged in communication with distant markets.
“We appreciate the support by the United States of America, who have always extended a helping hand to support our efforts and we sit together to share information, experience and strategies to end poaching,” he said.
Ambassador Childress assured Tanzania of continued support to conserve the wildlife adding; “We have a crisis (poaching) in Selous and the American government is prepared to support your initiative.
We will provide every necessary support to make sure that if the mechanism worked in other countries should work in Tanzania as well,” Ambassador Childress said.
Early this month, anti-poaching drive in Tanzania received a mammoth backing from America after receiving the first surveillance helicopter Robinson R44 type which was handed over to minister Nyalandu.
Nyalandu said two more helicopters would be purchased one a Bell 206 and the other Robertson 44 for intensified surveillance in Game reserves, National Parks and other Conservation Areas.
Statistics indicate that poaching reached the alarming level such that the elephant population in the famous Selous Game Reserve, the largest in the world and Ruaha National Park dropped from 74,416 in 2009 to 33,084 in 2013 as a result of poaching activities.
More than 20,000 elephants have been killed over the last decade and 80 per cent of the animal killing happened in East Africa.
In attendance were legislator, Mr James Lembeli (CCM – Kahama) also Chair to the Parliamentary Committee, land, Natural Resources and Environment who thanked the US government for the timely support which he believed would make a big difference in the fight of poaching.
Shadow minister, Rev Peter Msigwa (Chadema- Iringa) commended the US for the support and said the ministry has shown seriousness in addressing the challenge of poaching, efforts that deserved full support irrespective of ideological differences.