TANZANIA has sought the engagement of more development partners (DPs) to support the country materially and financially in fighting wildlife poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking.
In roundtable discussions and chaired by the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Lazaro Nyalandu, the DPs including diplomatic representatives who attended the discussion, pledged in principle to support the move.
Mr Nyalandu said Tanzania was appealing for financial support to finance its grand programme of setting up a modern and high-powered Wildlife Protection Unit at least for the first four years of its establishment.
“The DPs should consider providing grants that will allow for the hiring of 3,767 new rangers and wardens through the Tanzania Wildlife Protection Fund and capacity building will be for four years before the government takes over from there,” he said.
The minister would not be specific on how much financial support was needed to finance the new organ, but billions if not trillions of shillings could be needed to set up the machinery tasked with ensuring maximum protection of the country’s precious wildlife resources.
According to Mr Nyalandu, financial resources were being sought to cater for salaries, housing, training, medical insurance policies and other logistics to enable the new unit operate in full swing.
As the number of wardens and rangers kept decreasing due to some reportedly getting killed in operations while others retired, the total manpower had dropped sharply to only 1,088 out of the required 4000.
The minister said the government was also set to revamp wildlife conservation programmes by ensuring biodiversity conservation and strengthening law enforcement mechanisms, among others.
He briefed them on the country’s plans in the near future which include forming an independent communication system to facilitate coordination between the ministry and other government agencies such as the Customs Department.
For their part, representatives of diplomatic missions in the country and DPs expressed their desire to support the move, but insisted that Tanzania was supposed to demonstrate deep commitment to fighting the vice.
The British High Commissioner in Tanzania, Ms Dianna Melrose, said more action was needed to ensure the culprits behind the killing of elephants, other wild animals and saboteurs of wildlife resources were booked without failure.
“We expect the government to demonstrate the highest practical commitment ever needed to fight the growing vice and should arrest and punish those responsible and the UK will be willing to support the battle,” she said.
She said she was looking forward to meeting Tanzania’s delegation in London during an international summit on wildlife protection next week where issues of poaching and other related crimes would top the agenda.
Other support commitments came from representatives of the US, Germany, France, European Union, UN agencies, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the African Development Bank (AfDP).
France said it was important that government agencies were well coordinated to win the anti-poaching war, otherwise the battle would be fruitless even if many resources were poured in.