Tanzania conservation news – Wildlife smuggling investigation underway


Information came to light in Tanzania last week that influential ‘people’ – allegedly from the government in Qatar using an air force aircraft, were late last year flying out live animals and birds with customs officials conniving in the scam in contravention of the country’s laws and regulations governing the export of wildlife. An ongoing investigation by the criminal investigation department in Dar es Salaam appears to implicate customs officials, wildlife traders, airport security officials and ground handling staff, although the report prompted an immediate denial by the country’s largest ground handling company Swissport, which denied any involvement although they apparently confirmed that some of their equipment had been hired by a third party to ‘do the job’.

Details revealed to the media in Tanzania show that several giraffes, oryx, dik-dik, gazelles and impalas but also elands, ground hornbills, kori bustards, secretary birds, vultures, eagles and other game were being shipped illegally.

Emotions were in the past running high in Tanzania when hunting blocks were indiscriminately ‘shot empty’ by Gulf based Royals with officials turning a blind eye to quotas so as not to upset the ‘friendship’ of the rich rulers of the oil producing Gulf states but these latest revelations are only bound to once more turn the spotlight on both hunting and wildlife trade practices in Tanzania which in recent months has come under increasing global criticism over their laissez faire approach towards conservation areas, where massive infrastructure, timber harvesting and mining projects are threatening the Serengeti, Lake Natron, the Eastern Arc Mountains and the Mwambani coastal area which too is protected as a marine national park. The Tanzanian government’s indefensible position has only a few days ago been raised in the European parliament in Strasbourg when the European Commission was compelled to express their concern over the massive impact of these projects and confirmed that diplomatic initiatives were underway to have scientifically sound reviews of the plans carried out, casting doubt on the legitimacy and validity of ‘environmental impact studies’ undertaken by ‘scientists’ in the pay of government.

Last year did the CITES Secretariat in a specially commissioned report cite Tanzania for their weak regime in regard of anti poaching and wildlife trade, including the transiting from third countries via Tanzanian airports and ports, before the Doha CITES meeting was then turning down an application to sell ‘surplus’ ivory on the open market.

Watch this space.