The word ‘ivory’ rang in the air, was whispered and was sighed. You would think they were praying to it.” – British writer Joseph Conrad in the novel Heart of Darkness, known for his nature and existence themes
The arrival of special planes to be used in the effort to fight poaching, reportedly rampant in the country’s game reserves is welcome news indeed. Statistics on poaching in Tanzania don’t sound good at all. Poachers have wreaked much havoc on the all-important national heritage component, leaving the wildlife conservation areas seriously depleted.
Tanzania has by independence time in 1961 been a world renowned wildlife-rich country, a fact that had attracted thousands of tourists each year from all over the world.
No wonder even film producers and directors saw in Tanzania a rare opportunity and perfect setting for their African Safari movies.
Memories linger of the film ‘Hatari’, starring John Wayne, one of the most popular actors of the old-school and shot in the Serengeti National Park.
Tanzania has been identified as the leading exporter of illegal ivory in recent years. An estimated 10,000 elephants are being slaughtered in the country annually.
Going back to the opening quote above that Conrad wrote more than a century ago, when there were no laws against shooting elephants, if anything, today’s restrictions on the ivory trade have only increased its value.
According to global wildlife conservation reports, the slaughter of elephants and the seizure of illegal ivory have soared to their highest levels in decades.
A voracious market in Asia and chaotic wildlife protection in much of Africa have put elephant herds at risk throughout the African continent, particularly in Central and East Africa.
Tanzania, one of the world’s last great repositories of elephants, has been described as the key battleground. Some 70,000 to 80,000 elephants roam the country’s immense sanctuaries, amounting to perhaps a quarter of all African elephants.
It is gratifying to note that the government is keen and serious in the fight against poachers, which is strengthened by the introduction of such sophisticated means to fight all those who want to enrich themselves at the expense of our wildlife heritage. The fight against poachers must continue at any cost.
Tourists come in their thousands each year to sample our rich wildlife heritage, bringing in the much-needed foreign exchange. We can’t, therefore, afford to lose the war.