President Jakaya Kikwete has announced stern measure, including deployment of the army, to redress the killing of elephants and rhino coupled with illegal export of logs which have now reached an alarming level.
Speaking at a sideline meeting for Heads of State and Government organized by President Ondimba Omar Bongo of Gabon and the Government of Germany at the UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday evening, President Kikwete said the army will have to be deployed to spearhead control measures to save the wildlife and forests.
Among other issues on the agenda, the meeting focused on ways to stop serious interference with the wildlife and control the destruction of forests for conservation of the environment.
“The Tourism sector which contributes 17 per cent to the National Gross Product (NGP) hiring more than 300,000 people has been targeted by ill-intentioned people. Additional protective measures must be put in place to avert the threat,” the president said.
Clarifying on the seriousness of the matter, President Kikwete said in 1960, for example, Tanzania had 350,000 elephants but the number decreased to 110,000 by 2009.
According to the statement issued by the Directorate of Communication at the State House, the country registered about 700 rhinos in 1974 but the number has declined to below 100 due to poaching.
“Between 1980 and 1990 we (Tanzania) had deployed the army to help stop poaching along the animal corridors. The situation improved dramatically but in the last four years the situation has worsened. For example, between 2010 and July 2013, more than 1,386 elephants were killed in Tanzania,” he explained.
Additional measures taken to control poaching, said the president, included review of policies, legislations and regulations guiding the wildlife. Also the country ratified various international treaties related to protection of the wildlife and natural vegetation.
Commenting on confiscation of weapons from poachers, Mr. Kikwete said some arrests had also been made such that between 2010 and 2013, a total of 5,189 poachers were arrested in addition to 1,952 guns impounded.
“A total of 3,788 tusks weighing at 10,756 kilogrammes were impounded. I have issued instructions to the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) to take action and we will see the difference soon,” he said.
It was explained that the sector required more labour force at least 4,800 new employees at the moment to help intensify control measures, even if it means hiring 500 people annually. More funds will also be secured for the purpose.
At least more than US Dollar 19.4 million will be needed for the purpose, in addition to US Dollar 30 million for purchase of the necessary work equipment and construction of headquarters.