Tanzania: Top Officials Involved in Poaching – Report


The Citizen

Date Published

Arusha — High-level corruption has aided wildlife poaching in East Africa as their trophies fetch good money in black markets overseas.

The inadequate number of skilled rangers to confront the heavily armed gangsters is also to blame for the escalating killings of wildlife, especially elephants. These are among a raft of findings by a committee responsible for natural resources and tourism with the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala).

The report which was tabled before the House for debate on Tuesday said corrupt officials, in Tanzania and Kenya in particular, could have been compromised through bribes to allow the killings of wildlife and the illegal export of trophies.

Other factors for increasing cases of poaching include inadequate modern technological facilities and equipment to combat the emerging wildlife insecurity as well as poor enforcement of laws in protected areas.

The report followed a survey by Eala members from the Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources who visited the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and Nairobi National Park in Kenya. Serengeti, whose ecosystem extends to Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya, was found to be most affected while Mombasa Port is reported to be the major port for ivory to illegal buyers abroad.

The Kenyan port accounted for over 10 tonnes of illegal ivory intercepted at the port between January and October 2013, making it a major transit route for ivory from Africa, according to another survey.

The report said although elephants and rhinos were the most vulnerable, other animals now being hunted by the poachers include buffalos, giraffes, lions, hippopotami, crocodiles, antelopes, wildebeests, water bucks, gazelles and ostriches.

Other natural resources which are illegally taken from the region include flora and timber but the legislators emphasised that it is the wildlife — the biggest attraction that draws hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists into the region each year — which is under grave threat.