RENEWED CONTROVERSY OVER HUNTING IN TANZANIA
Information was received from Dar es Salaam that government will open tenders for hunting block concessions on the 10th of February this year, when bids will become known for the now 190 hunting blocks created across the East African country. While some areas are set aside apparently for subsistence hunting of game to help feed the nearby populations – a buffalo permit for such reportedly goes for only 100.000 Tanzania Shillings while a foreign hunter has to pay almost 2.000 US Dollars for the same ‘privilege’ – others are exclusively set aside for the foreign clientele of hunting companies.
In an almost bizarre twist have in connection with the bid opening announcement a number of hunting companies complained to government that ‘there is hardly any game left’ in the areas they ‘occupy’ under their present concessions, a question a conservation source in Dar said should be directed at themselves and their ‘trigger happy clients’ in particular in areas where ‘royalty from the Mid East come in and blast away at anything which moves’. It is understood that almost two dozen such ‘empty hunting block’ owners are planning to vacate their concession in view of the cost involved to keep it up and running when in fact no more revenues can be extracted in the absence of roaming wildlife.
Government sources however were swift in putting the blame for the lack of game in some areas on the increase in poaching, itself an interesting explanation as the same government keeps singing its own praises how much they do in anti poaching measures – claims however disputed by most conservationists and CITES, which had a year ago published a damning report about the laxity in Tanzania over enforcement of existing rules and regulations and for being a convenient transiting country for blood ivory and live animals and birds from other countries on the continent. It is here in particular that Tanzania has to return to basics of wildlife conservation and allocated sufficient funding from tourism receipts to anti poaching units, both inside and outside the protected areas – a task made harder by the ongoing controversy over the routing of a new highway through the most sensitive migration area of the Serengeti, which has seemingly upset donors and development partners to a point of withholding further funding until the controversy is resolved.
At the same time did government departments published a figure of 25 billion Tanzania Shillings, earned from hunting activities during the period of July 2010 till end December 2010, ostensibly to defend the ‘benefits’ of hunting. Watch this space.