The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism has endorsed the request by Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) to operate from the current civilian system to paramilitary in the quest for a lasting solution to poaching.
Speaking at the climax of a training for soldiers and game reserve rangers, the Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Major General Gaudence Milanzi, said the request for change from civilian to paramilitary was valid because of the prevailing problem of poaching.
Maj Gen Milanzi officiated the passing- out ceremony held at Mlele camp in Katavi Game Reserve, located in Katavi Region, where a total of 101 soldiers and 26 rangers completed the training that was conducted for three and six months respectively.
“Currently, our game reserves are facing a huge challenge of poaching especially elephants and rhinos because of blatant disregard of ethics by guards and rangers,” he said, adding:
“We will forward your request to other authorities so as to prepare a proper legal framework that will be presented in Parliament in order to have a law which will specify how you will discharge your duties.”
However, the PS asked the soldiers and TANAPA management to prepare a proper transition mechanism so as when the law will be ready, they can be able to accommodate appropriate changes that will be specified in the respective legislation.
After the new changes, you will be required to observe discipline as it has always been in other members of the uniformed forces, including accountability and avoiding trade unions.
“In any contravention of the military code of ethics you will be tried in the court marshall and given punishment accordingly as per the procedures and regulations applied in the defence forces,” added Maj Gen Milanzi.
Earlier, when submitting the request, TANAPA Director General Allan Kijazi said after a thorough assessment by experts in the authority, it was concluded that because of the current various challenges, it is high time that it operates as a paramilitary to look for a comprehensive solution to the challenges.
“Our soldiers are given pure military training, complete with serious training on weapon handling that will help them to weed out poachers in our various national parks,” he added, insisting:
“It should be understood that currently poachers especially those killing our elephants have been using sophisticated weapons and technology and they have been changing their tactics to have their mission accomplished.”
Mr Kijazi insisted that the aim of the military training was to increase capacity building to soldiers to make them stronger to conduct regular patrols even in dangerous areas of the game reserves.
Earlier, Katavi Regional Commissioner (RC), Major General (Rtd) Raphael Mahunga, warned groups of pastoralists that were taking animals in the game reserve to stop it immediately.
“We made an assessment in my region and found out that there was 800,000 livestock that invaded Katavi National Park, but we made a special operation to kick out animals in that area,” said the
RC. Mr Mahunga said the region would use the soldiers who completed their training to make regular operations that would ensure that no animals were being taken in the game reserves. The military training is the third to be provided to TANAPA staff. The authority is manning 16 different game reserves countrywide.