THE government will use all resources at its disposal to improve anti-poaching operations and increase the number of game rangers to protect the country’s wildlife from total extinction, Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Lazaro Nyalandu has said. In an interview conducted via the “Hard Talk” programme of the international channel of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and aired on Tuesday, Mr Nyalandu vowed that no stone will be left unturned in the effort to track down poachers and bring them to justice. “In this war we will not distinguish between supporters and poachers; we are committed in making sure that poaching comes to an end,” Mr Nyalandu stressed. The in-depth interview programme, which is renowned for its hard-hitting questions on sensitive issues directed at prominent personalities from around the globe, was hosted by veteran journalist Stephen Sackur. Looking very composed, Mr Nyalandu emphasized without mincing words that the war against poaching would be waged irrespective of race, boundary and status perpetrators subscribed to.
The minister also downplayed propaganda by Opposition leaders in the country who have been sending a message to the effect that nothing has been done to stop poaching. He said that various measures have been taken, including dismissal of a number of bigwigs in the conservation departments while taking legal action against them. When asked on the plan to destroy the ivory stockpile, Mr Nyalandu reiterated that Tanzania was against ivory trade and wanted all ivory markets in the world closed. “We have 112 tonnes of ivory stockpile, but as President Kikwete said recently here in London, we are demanding total ban of ivory trade and we will not put our stockpile for economic benefit,” he stressed. He added that people using ivory products anywhere in the world should know that they were advocating the killing of elephants. Mr Nyalandu told BBC that Tanzania, with 16 vast national parks, has 320 game rangers only, which he observed was too small to completely stop poaching. He, however, added that the country was restructuring its regulations, investing in training and improving salaries and remunerations for game rangers as part of the effort. He reported that Tanzania was the first country ever in Africa to have ordered its soldiers to intervene in the fight against poaching, adding that the move demonstrated the high level of commitment by the government to end the scourge.
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