MORE BLOOD IVORY IMPOUNDED IN TANZANIA
The seizure yesterday of 214 tusks and the arrest of initially three suspects rocked Tanzania’s conservation fraternity, only days after a shipment, allegedly coming from the port of Dar es Salaam, was impounded by Hong Kong customs officers in a record haul.
Poaching, according to a recent parliamentary report, stands at nearly 30 elephant a day or about 10.000 of these animals per year, with authorities doing far too little to stem the tide and halt the commercial scale slaughter of elephant. Driven by exploding demand from mainly China, poaching for ivory and rhino horn poses the greatest threat to Africa’s wildlife heritage ever seen and with nearly 500 rhino poached in South Africa alone and an estimated 15.000+ elephant slaughtered this year across Africa, the booming safari tourism industry is facing the prospect of losing its key assets, roaming rhinos and large herds of elephant.
The seizure of over 450 kg’s of ivory in a place near the Kinondoni municipality by vigilant security personnel prevented the loot to be smuggled across the border into neighbouring Kenya.
This latest development will further dent Tanzania’s bid to be permitted a one off ivory sale of 100 tons of ‘legal’ ivory for which it has applied to CITES, as the same attempt to obtain permission in 2010 failed when the CITES inspectorate issued a damning report on the laxity of enforcing anti poaching measures in Tanzania and the relative ease with which the country can be used for trafficking.
No nonsense Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Amb. Kagesheki, is expected to come down hard on wildlife officials once again, after only weeks ago sacking a number of them and demoting others, for their failures to establish sufficient patrols and putting measures into place to protect the country’s dwindling elephant populations. ‘This seizure was a chance event, not a result of following leads. Who knows how many such illicit cargos go out of Tanzania. The president last year offered the help of the army. Was that ever taken up? It is time to use all resources we have in our country to combat poaching. If people would steal our mineral resources or fish in our territorial waters all hell would break lose but when they destroy our greatest heritage, our wildlife, no one seems too bothered. This has to change, no elephant, no tourism, it is as simple as that’ said a regular source from Arusha in a conversation overnight, when discussing this latest discovery of blood ivory in Tanzania.
Watch this space as certainly more such bad news will emerge in coming weeks and months.