Tanzania to break up game department in elephant strategy


Leonard Magomba, East African Business Week

Date Published

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The government is to break up the Game Department  as one way towards helping to revive the country’s depleted elephant numbers due to poaching.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism has set strategies to increase number of elephants to 100,000 during the next five years.

Lazaro Nyalandu, the tourism minister told East African Business Week in Dar es Salaam recently that Tanzania is changing the way wildlife protection is done.

“We believe that the poaching crisis has been condensed. In the next 15 years, Tanzania will be having over 100,000 elephants,” he said.  

He said the government had decided to dismantle the Game Department which was previously under his Ministry and transfer personnel to the Tanzania Wildlife Authority which is now being restructured into a completely new agency.

The new agency will be responsible for over 120,000 square kilometres (46,332 square miles) of land.

This, among other things, will help to crackdown bureaucracy that has been hindering most of the government efforts to cut-down poaching.

He said the number of poachers that are being apprehended is dropping drastically.

“The drop comes from the government effort to increase the number on man-patrol since February last year,” he said.

He said the judicial system is now working much better to fight corruption and wrong-doers are jailed.

The Minister calls for more action from international community to make sure that more action in terms of funding and technical support is being given.

The 2014 survey indicated that the elephant population in the Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystem, in Tanzania’s undeveloped south, crashed from 20,000 in 2013 to 8,272.

So to protect the remaining elephants in Ruaha-Rungwa, the government is already doubling the number of game rangers to 140.

Also it’s committed to provide transportation, weaponry and uniforms for them to work efficiently.

Regarding protection around the country, he said in June 2014, they hired an additional 500 rangers.

By the end of the year, they had hired another 500.

He also said Tanzania and Mozambique have signed a bilateral agreement to protect the Selous-Niassa Corridor, which will become the world’s largest protected area.

He has also signed a new agreement with his Zambian counterpart to protect the Miombo woodland.

This woodland is about 2.5 million square kilometers of land criss crossing Tanzania and Zambia, a crucial habit for the elephants to multiply in.