Tanzania: When Poaching Is a Concern to Environmentalists


George Sembony, Opinion, Tanzania Daily News

Date Published

Despite being renowned globally for its wildlife resources, Tanzania has the unpleasant record of having one of the worst jumbo poaching records in the world.

Concerned with a jumbo population that is being depleted at an unacceptable rate a 60 per cent loss in five years, Mazingira Network (MANET), the umbrella organisation bringing together Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) dealing with environmental conservation issues, has come forward with a dream and wish list of what the fifth phase government should do this year.

The list includes; that the government put a stop to jumbo and rhino poaching as a matter of priority. “We would like to see the perpetrators of the heinous act heavily punished in accordance with the law,” MANET Secretary Frank Luvanda said in a statement.

MANET brings together 71 Civil Society Organisations. It advocates for good governance of natural resources that would in turn improve livelihood of community members. Also it works basically in three thematic areas, namely Forestry, Wildlife, and Fishery.

It works in transforming national policies for safeguarding the environment; but also works at local level through MANET CSOs members in making communities participate fully in governance of natural resources and thereby reduce poverty at local level.

The motivation to issue a dream and wish list has been driven, according to its Chairman, Zubery Mwachula, by President John Magufuli’s seriousness in dealing with issues.

President Magufuli highlighted the importance of Environmental Conservation, mentioning some of the challenges related to environmental conservation, such as wildlife poaching and the problem of boundaries between villages and protected areas were impressive and Mwachulla said MANET believe he means what he says The organisation has been concerned with a depletion of the jumbo at what it termed as unacceptable rate.

“We would like this to be our first wish to the President,” Mwachulla pointed out, saying that MANET is thankful for the President who has shown that he cares about environmental conservation as that would ensure sustainable development of our country.

According to available information, elephant numbers dropped by 62 per cent over the last decade, and they could be mostly extinct by the end of the next decade. An estimated 100 African elephants are killed each day by poachers seeking ivory, meat and body parts, leaving only 400,000 remaining.

An insatiable lust for ivory products in the Asian market makes the illegal ivory trade extremely profitable, and has led to the slaughter of tens of thousands of African elephants. As of 2011, the world is losing more elephants than the population can reproduce, threatening the future of African elephants across the continent. Tanzania’s elephant population is one of the continent’s largest.

Data released by the government, last year, showed that between 2009 and 2014 the number dropped from 109,051 to 43,330. When an annual birth rate of 5 per cent is taken into account the number of dead is 85,181. Efforts to stop poaching have been made by the government through various campaigns. The most popular one was the Operation Tokomeza Ujangili.

Results came quickly, for the first time in over a decade more illegal ivory was seized in Tanzania than in transit to (or in) the Far East. In 2013, there were 56 seizures of ivory in Tanzania totaling 8,255kg, the equivalent of what has been seized over the last decade, and 216 suspected poachers and traffickers have been brought to court. The operation was, however, terminated by fourth phase Government President, Jakaya Kikwete after serious outcry made by Parliamentarians.

Since the termination and inquiry that led to the resignation of four Government Ministers, the situation has largely remained serious and poaching is reported to continue unabated despite such operations as Spider Net and Tokomeza. Dr Kikwete had promised to relaunch the operation following increased killings of jumbos after the termination of Operation Tokomeza.

Other wishes of the fifth phase government to ensure that the boundaries of all protected areas are known to the public, hence reduce boundary conflicts between villages’ adjacent protected areas and authorities governing those protected areas.

MANET would also like the government to ensure that illegal fishing gears such as dynamite fishing, poison fishing, and the use of under-size fishnets are stopped and enhance efforts to stop further deforestation of natural forests in Tanzania both in the protected forests and on the general land.

On renewable energy, the organisation would wish the government to ensure simple and affordable renewable energy technologies are disseminated to communities for sustainable management of natural resources in Tanzania, On the oil and gas, the organisation has called on the new government to ensure all multinational oil and gas companies operating in Tanzania abide by international safety and environmental standards so as to protect marine ecosystems.

MANET would also like the Government to ensure local communities are engaged in environmental conservation as part of responding to negative effects of climate change in Tanzania and global at large.

Above all, the organisation wishes to to see all old policies and legislations that pave ways to current environmental challenges and threats are reviewed for better management of natural resources for sustainable development of our country. Manet wants to ensure that government collaborate well with Civil Society Organisations both national and international on environmental conservation.

The organisation said also spoke particularly the fight against corruption, saying it would like to see the government deliberately combating corruption and poor governance around natural resources in Tanzania.

Mwachulla pledged MANET’s collaboration with fifth government of Tanzania on environmental conservation in four thematic areas, namely Forestry, Wildlife, Fishery, and Extractives (oil and natural gas).

MANET will also collaborate with the newly elected government in addressing environmental challenges brought by climate change and support renewable energies as part of mitigation and adaptation efforts to climate change in Tanzania,” he said.