TANZANIA is determined to intensify the fight against poaching and illegal ivory trade through employment of more wildlife management personnel to patrol and protect its wildlife, President Jakaya Kikwete has declared.
“We have already embarked on an ambitious programme to increase employment of these cadres, last year we allocated funds to employ 459 game rangers and wardens while this year we will employ additional 500 personnel,”
Mr Kikwete made the remarks here on Thursday while addressing delegates at the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade 2014 held at the Lancaster House.
The one-day meeting drew delegates from over 50 countries and was attended by among others Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron, Prince Charles and his two sons Prince William and Prince Harry.
Mr Kikwete further said Tanzania seeks to meet the total requirements of 4,788 game rangers by the year 2016 from the current rate of 1,088 rangers.
The President asked developed nations to support African countries by training anti-poaching personnel as well as providing the countries with technology and equipment to fight poaching.
“Our game rangers and wardens need to be empowered with better and modern equipment so that they can effectively perform their duties.
“Among others, they need vehicles, surveillance and modern communication equipment. Unfortunately, we are falling short of these needs. Much more needs to be done and support from the international community is critical,” he observed.
President Kikwete also asked the developed countries to support countries affected by poaching to build more capacity on inspection at ports and points of exit to ensure that no cargo containing ivory, rhino horns or other contraband goods would cross borders without being detected.
“Inspection is constrained by lack of adequate financial resources to acquire requisite technology. Support in this regard would be highly appreciated,” he noted.
Describing the London conference as a historic opportunity to take a landmark decision to save elephants and rhinos, the Head of State said he was optimistic the international community would pronounce itself on supporting developing nations in the war against poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
The President observed that the trade in ivory and rhino horns threatens the survival of elephants and rhinos to unprecedented proportions, citing Tanzania as a living example of the menace of the trade.
Despite the challenges the country faces in the fight against the vice, he noted, however, that there are some achievements which have been recorded through various operations mounted jointly by the police, the army and game wardens and rangers.
According to Mr Kikwete, the country has through a task force formed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism managed to tame poaching of wildlife in the northern part of the country, adding that the task force has been directed to replicate the efforts in southern and western Tanzania.
Meanwhile, President Jakaya Kikwete granted interview to the CNN on Thursday night. During interview with the CNN announcer, Christiane Amanpour he confirmed to the world about the magnitude of wildlife poaching describing the situation as “madness”.
Responding to a question from the reporter who asked whether what is reported was exaggeration or not, President Kikwete said that it was a fact.
“At independence Tanzania had 350,000 elephants but by 1987 there were only 55,000 elephants left,” he was quoted on CNN.
President Kikwete joined Amanpour in London, where heads of state are meeting to find a solution to end illegal poaching before it’s too late.
“This is madness now, it is just impossible… it’s a serious matter,” he said describing the current situation.
Incidents of poaching are on the rise fuelled by a growing demand for ivory and rhino horns in Asia. There are also concerns that poaching is helping to fund violent groups in the region.
When it comes to destroying ivory stockpiles, as countries like the United States and China have done in the past, President Kikwete says his country is considering doing the same thing to show it is an unacceptable trade.
“We have about 112 tonnes of ivory… we used to have the idea of asking permission to sell, but we don’t think, these are not the times”.
It’s not the right time, he says, because it was the relaxation of laws that opened the door to more poaching in the first place.
When addressing delegates at the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, he cited a ban on ivory trade in the year 1989 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which played a crucial role in stopping the trade.
“When CITES banned ivory trade in 1989 it helped the recovery of elephant population. I believe if the trade is banned today the effect will be the same and many lives of elephants and rhinos will be saved,” Mr Kikwete said.