Tanzania embarrassed after Interpol asks for arrest of 4 over Hong Kong ivory seizure


The recent seizure of blood ivory in Hong Kong by customs officials, said to be worth over 3.4 million US Dollars and containing over 1.200 tusks representing over 600 poached elephant, drew prompt denials from Tanzanian officials, when Dar es Salaam was named as one of the shipping points of origin.

The ‘it was not us’ chorus however was silenced in a hurry when Hong Kong police, through Interpol, sent a formal request to nab four suspects in Tanzania who were named when some of those arrested in Hong Kong started to spill the beans and revealed their contacts in Dar and beyond.

Added information revealed appears to confirm suspicions that the blood ivory could originate from the Selous and Mikumi National Park, where poaching on a commercial scale has found little serious opposition from security forces, inspite of continued full mouthed statements to the contrary. A parliamentary report earlier this year brought to the plenary in Dodoma, asserted that up to 30 elephant per day were killed by poachers in Tanzania and that the battle against poaching was certainly not won, but probably lost, as the big herds were being relentlessly cut down, while at the same time officials in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism insisted that hunting of elephant must continue because it generated revenue for them.

The denials must be seen in the light that Tanzania had just announced a fresh bid to sell about 100 tons of ivory on the open market, after losing a similar application at the CITES meeting in Doha in 2010. At the time the CITES Secretariat had compiled a damning report on the country’s laxity over anti poaching operations and regular trafficking through Tanzanian ports, which brought the roof down on the application when the delegates voted the request down alongside the one from Zambia. These latest damaging findings will therefore only fuel the sentiments of those opposed to Tanzania being permitted to sell stocks and calls are emerging for Tanzania to follow the example of Kenya and burn the ivory.

Watch this space as the onslaught against Africa’ wildlife heritage continues unabated, fueled by unchecked demand from mainly China for ivory and rhino horn.

7 Responses

  1. Dear Mr. Thome,

    I hope you remember me – Shikha Nayar.

    Kindly send me your e mail contact, if you could please contact me on the e mail address below that would be great. I would like to get in touch with you.



  2. I find it amazing that no one ever puts this all together and just states the obvious.

    1. Tanzania applies for permit to sell Ivory and gets denied.
    2. Huge stocks of Ivory show up on the black market with evidence pointing toward Tanzanian poaching.
    3. Tanzanian government officials deny claims.

    The reason they denied the claims is because the government supports the poaching, and very likely is involved in the poaching. I would bet that if anyone was checking, the stock of Ivory that the government was seeking a permit to sell has gone down significantly, probably by right around 1200 tusks.

    It never fails to amaze me how little the Eastern African governments do to protect the one thing that could grow their economy the most. EcoTourism is the answer to most of their financial woes. But for a few people to make a little quick money, they will kill off everything people go there to see.

  3. Fully agreed with you Dan. I’ve personally seen poached animals in Tanzania. And have worked on anti poaching projects flying spotters around looking for poachers. The local wildlife and project managers and all the way up to government level are definitely involved. Hence the caught poachers are found time after time continuing their vile deeds. The general Tanzania population does not care about wildlife or sustainability, only about lining their pockets. There are a few who do try hard, but its a losing battle. Tanzania will have little wildlife left in the next 10 years and tourism will diminish.

  4. ”The general Tanzania population does not care about wildlife or sustainability…”. This generalization was posted by so called E, but he/she needs to explore further in order to learn about the efforts to curb poaching which involves the general population. Yet, as in any country, a small chunk of villains are there to stay.