Tanzania gets new tourism minister amid reports of rhino poaching and robbery of tourists


(Posted 19th January 2014)

The first order of business for newly appointed Hon. Lazaro Nyalandu, now elevated from Deputy Minister to a full Cabinet Minister, will have to be dealing with the disturbing news from Arusha, that an Eastern Black Rhino was killed late last week in the heart of the Serengeti. The information claims that the poached animal is one of those brought into Tanzania from South Africa two years ago, and if correct would be the second of that first batch to be poached for its horns. Additionally news also broke that bandits robbed tourists mid afternoon of the 17th January in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which together with the Serengeti forms the core of Tanzania’s safari tourism.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism late yesterday reads as follows: ‘We received a report on the evening of Saturday night of 18th January, 2014 at around 00:30, on attempt of poachers who killed a rhino (black rhino) at Moru, on the Southern part Serengeti National Park. Wildlife guards who patrolled the area discovered a shot dead rhino with his horns being poached.

On Friday 17th January, 2014, three armed robbers possessing SMG arms, who are thought to be among the poachers, had invaded and attack a minibus of travellers at around 15:00 in the evening in Ngorongoro Conservation Area and robbed money with other different possessions.

After we received the information, the Government through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism in collaboration with Peace and Security Force, we have taken emergency measures by importing a search of poachers in all areas within the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area as well as areas surrounding these parks.

We have ordered inspection in any car or person who enters or exit these parks as part of the criminals hunt. We request information from any citizen who doubts any unknown visitors around their residential areas to report to the authorized authority. The reported three criminals are said to be from one of the East African Community member country, this implies that the poachers syndicate involved in killing of the rhino is large.

The government is now searching for the three criminals with all means necessary and we are asking citizens to cooperate by providing information on criminals, whenever possible, to the National Security force.

Early today morning, the Ministry has assigned Task Force (Rapid Response Team) comprising of 20 soldiers with special arms to add more force in searching for poachers and make sure they are found.

Serengeti National Park has a total of 32 rhinos (Black Rhinocerous), of which their natural habitat is in Serengeti. Among these, five rhinos (5) were brought from South Africa for a special project under the supervision of H.E. President, Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, where one rhino was killed by poachers in December 2012.

The poaching situation in the country is getting worse day by day, the Government has been and will continue to fight against poachers and all economic sabotage through national resources.

The Government is implementing the resolutions of the National Assembly which were raised from the Natural Resources and Environment Parliamentary Committee headed by Hon . James Lembeli and has taken steps to specifically include the command of the President, by forming a Judicial Commission to investigate allegations made against the Operesheni Tokomeza . The government intends to progress with Operation once remedies against the Operesheni Tokomeza have been solved. The Ministry has taken measures by suspending 23 of its employees who are facing various charges, including corruption and helping of poachers.

Despite the reports of arrests for ivory in various locations in the country, including the incident of a reported case in the Dar es Salaam Habour, we regret to inform the public that, early this month, Mrs. Salome Aloyce (Sinza Madukani) , Mr Rajab Omar (Kigogo DSM), and Mr. Kadili Mohammed Kisanduku (taxi driver – Mbezi Luis DSM ) who were travelling to Dar es Salaam, were arrested in the Ugenza village in Mufindi, having transported elephant horns weighing 37 kilogram using a Toyota Corolla car, with registration number T 580 ABL, owned by Mr . Florian Elias of Dar es Salaam. These suspects are now detained by the police for further legal action’.

The statement however met with immediate protestations from sections of the tour and safari operator fraternity, several regular sources writing emails, text and social media messages that it was not true that vehicles were being searched in order to net the culprits.

Maybe those are their plans but for Saturday, the day after the robbery and the night when the rhino was poached, there were no controls and yesterday morning, Sunday, my drivers also confirmed that they met no such controls when entering and leaving the conservation area or the Serengeti gate. The ministry should not make statements without ensuring that what they say is reflected on the ground. They have to learn that criminals are highly mobile and unless immediate dragnets are put into place, with aerial and ground pursuit, they are getting away’ said one of the Arusha based sources while another wrote: ‘Rubbish all. They are all sitting on their a**** instead of doing their jobs. When the first of those imported rhinos was poached not long after it arrived there was an outcry. TANAPA and the ministry promised these animals would be protected 24/7. Where were those guards last weekend when the poachers shot the rhino, cut the horns and vanished. Gunshots are heard from afar but it is obvious that there were no rangers nearby at all. Instead of sacking Kagesheki they should have listened to him how to go about anti poaching. I gather Kikwete [President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania] is about to appoint a new minister but unless there is fundamental change at the top and in the mindset, there will be no change you or I can see’.

Indeed it was confirmed late on Sunday that a cabinet reshuffle has taken place in Dar es Salaam and that the four sacked ministers, including Amb. Khamis Kagesheki, have been replaced, as was the Finance Minister who had passed away on January 01st after a long illness. Lazaro Samuel Nyalandu, until yesterday serving as Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, was made a full minister and will now have to face the music over these latest incidents. Other tasks awaiting him are the formation of a new wildlife authority, the restructuring of the way how tourism is marketed in Tanzania and perhaps most challenging, the resumption of anti poaching operations over which his predecessor was put to the political knife.

At this stage it can only be a warm welcome to Minister Nyalandu and time will tell how he will fare in this ministry which over the past two years saw two full ministers sacked. Watch this space.

(The newly elevated Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Hon. Lazaro Samuel Nyalandu)

2 Responses

  1. Nyalandu has been doing lots of PR with the British media since his boss was put under fire by the fearless Daily Mail which alleged Kikwetes family involvement in poaching.

    As far as I understand Nyalandu appeared on BBC’s HARD TALK but not sure if it has been aired yet

    Should be interesting to hear how he defended his boss.

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