Breaking News – Serengeti rhino, recently relocated, poached for its horns


 The Tanzanian government has come under severe criticism when news emerged that one of the five Eastern Black Rhinos brought from South Africa earlier in the year, has been found dead with the horns removed by poachers. The news were greeted with dismay amongst conservationists from around the world, especially those dealing with the conservation of the rhinos in particular. The five rhinos, a further nearly 30 are due to follow, were received with much fanfare and a huge PR campaign, and President Kikwete himself had travelled to the Serengeti to witness to offloading of the five rare rhinos from the aircraft upon arrival from South Africa. The entire exercise is expected to run into the hundreds of thousands of US Dollars in cost, to capture the animals in South Africa and then fly them in batches of 5 or 6 a time to Tanzania, with money coming from the Tanzanian government, donors and development partners, who had hoped to restore the rhinos to their original habitat. Meanwhile though, plans by Kikwete, to build a highway across the migration routes of the Serengeti have created a global coalition against these plans, with key world bodies like UNESCO, AWF, WWF and others demanding that this plan be halted and the highway routed elsewhere. The Serengeti’s UNESCO World Heritage Status is subsequently now in danger, and Tanzania’s reputation as a conservation nation, has received deep dents and scratches abroad – especially in the crucially important countries where the tourists to Tanzania come from – over not just these plans but other mis-steps too. During the last CITES conference in Doha did Tanzania apply to sell dozens of tons of ivory, a request refused and rejected by the forum, but instead of learning lessons from the ‘njet’ of the delegates at the CITES conference the former tourism minister and her mouthpieces cried foul, blamed some of their neighbouring countries for having ‘spearheaded an anti Tanzania campaign’ and vowed to submit a fresh application to CITES for the next global meeting. It was also learned recently that the Tanzanian customs department is trying to circumvent the CITES regulations and the expressed ban by auctioning off confiscated ivory, claiming only ‘raw’ tusks were falling under the ban but not ‘processed or semiprocessed pieces’. This has already been challenged by conservationists and their legal teams, pointing out that besides CITES other global regulation apply, which make shipping and exporting or importing such ivory illegal and subject to potential criminal charges, besides confiscation at the destination. The slaughter of one of the rare rhinos also exposed glaring gaps in the protective mechanisms of TANAPA and other security agencies, as the animals, equipped with satellite beacons, are to have protection details nearby around the clock, and further translocations of rhinos may now well be held back, until Tanzania – already under fire for a lack of anti poaching and anti smuggling efforts in general – can show cause that they are both capable of providing budgets and manpower but also politically willing to ‘toe the line’. It was also learned that sources in Germany are now asking questions about the donation of 2 million Euro worth of funding and equipment for TANAPA by the Frankfurt Zoological Society earlier this year, aimed to prevent exactly such slaughter by poachers, and TANAPA officials will have to answer precisely what measures they had put into place to protect the five Eastern Black Rhinos and ensure their survival, and where their plans and efforts failed and how the donated funds were spent. One thing is for certain though, while we bemoan on an almost daily basis the ongoing massacres on rhinos and wildlife in general in Southern Africa, this was also a black day for the entire conservation fraternity in Eastern Africa.

6 Responses

  1. It’s pretty unbelievable how far off the Tanzanian government has gotten. Is there any calm, reasoned way to restore sanity? The road obviously needs to be killed, but I see no sign that is happening. The only good news would be if this terrible killing would spur the Tanzanian government to change course. Is there any hope of that? Are conservation funds being stolen or mis-spent? Thanks for reporting this, Wolfgang!

  2. Dear Wolfgang

    Many Thanks for this article. With regards to wildlife conservation you seem to be one of the best-informed people in East Africa. With great interest I have been following your news section regularly during the last few months, especially beacuse of the planned highway through the Serengeti.

    These things here are particularly irritating and infuriating but could they help to put more pressure on the Tanzanian government to stop the building of the planned road? I am pretty much of an outsider to all this but have signed the petition against the road. Is there anything else I could do to support the cause?

    Best Regards
    and Greetings from London
    Christian Rolke

    1. Dear Christian,
      spread the information and help, in your own way and through your own means, mobilize against the planned highway, and the same about the increasing poaching in Eastern and Southern Africa.
      Many thanks for your compliments and for reading my humble blog publication.
      For ‘instant’ updates you find me on Twitter via @whthome – flash news every morning and as and when news break.
      Seasons Greetings

  3. Hello,thanks for your appropriacy of news telling!
    Appreciatevely,its a nice thing you are trying to tell the world and whoever else interested in wildlife conservation,especially blackrhinos which were backed recently!
    Just the matter of wondering,even the government is trying to open up serengeti by constructing a road which is of no significance to the nature and the range,just acting as if this isn’t their national,or theirs but not understand what they ought to do to keep animals safe.
    Gorvenment need to be blamed and accused of this foolish and illogical plan!
    Thank you!

  4. Is there any update to this, I was in TZ this Christmas and heard that as many as 3 of the 5 had now been killed by poachers.