Tanzania: More Efforts Put in Anti-Poaching Drive


By Rose Athumani, Tanzania Daily News

Date Published
Ruaha — THE government through Strengthening the Protected Areas Network in Southern Tanzania (SPANEST) project is training a rapid response team (RRT) that will be deployed to handle incidents of poaching in Ruaha National Park and its environs.
The RRT is currently being trained by international experts on sophisticated combat techniques and handling of communication equipment such as GPS systems and firearms.
SPANEST is a five-year project from 2012-2017, whose aim is to create a coordinated landscape management approach in the Great Ruaha Landscape (GRL) and Great Kitulo-Kipengere Landscape (GKKL) to serve as a shield against human-induced pressures on southern Tanzania’s threatened biodiversity.
SPANEST Project Coordinator Mr Godwell Ole Meing’ataki said that supporting anti-poaching is among the objectives of the project, hence training of the RRT who will be deployed to different parts of the park to respond to threats of poaching.
SPANEST is being supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and being executed by the government through the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA).
This paper witnessed the RRT comprising of 38 energetic and strong men going through rigorous training with backpacks on their backs.
“The first phase of the training was mostly basic training, where about 40 park rangers were selected from 82, but a few have dropped out and now there are about 38 park rangers involved in the second phase of the training which is intensive,” he said.
Mr Kanaeli Nnko and Mr Kasuka Ndugulile, Park Rangers from RNP are happy being part of the RRT, explaining that they are being taught how to handle among others, arms like SMGs, AK47, GPS system, and how to survive in hush conditions for hours waiting to ambush poachers.
“This is war and we need to ensure that the park rangers have all the tactics to survive while fighting poachers in the wilderness,” Mr Meing’ataki explained.
He said SPANEST has been conducting anti-poaching campaigns around the more than 64 villages living around GRL and GKKL areas, trained TANAPA rangers, and did maintenance of roads around the park.
Among achievement recorded so far by SPANEST project is a 56 per cent decrease of poaching in RNP where a total of 36 elephants were killed in 2013/2014 compared to 82 in 2012/13.
“There is also an improved average time of ranger patrols deployment by 30 per cent and 54 per cent for Ruaha and Kitulo National Parks respectively through patrol vehicles donated by the project,” he explained.
Over 400 kilometres of roadwork in RNP have been maintained using a motor grader provided by SPANEST which has improved accessibility to the park.
Park Chief Warden, Dr Christopher Timbuka said poaching incidents have gone down by about 60 per cent, attributing the achievements to combined efforts from stakeholders and government’s ‘Operation Tokomeza.’
“‘Operation Tokomeza’ helped us a lot, we have a mountain of firearms seized following the government’s special operation in our stores,” he said, explaining that they are still continuing with anti-poaching efforts through the government’s National Task Force.
“We are now continuing with the task force on anti-poaching, seizing arms and arresting poachers, and I can say that this year the situation is very good,” he added.
Although he didn’t have statistics readily available, Dr Timbuka said between July and October this year there have been very few incidents of poaching.