- Published on Saturday, 18 August 2012 01:26
- Written by K"OYOO Nick
- Hits: 886
THE revelation that Tanzania has lost 31,348 elephants or 42% of its herd to poachers in the last 3 years is a shocking outrage. This is an outrage of immense proportions that should have cost the government its right, to preside over the business of governing , in the light of tourism being the number 3 foreign earner revenue to the exchequer.
This shocking revelation means that, in the 3 years between 2008 and 2011, 29 elephants have been falling in the hands of a poaching syndicate per day, resulting in the stated figures. It is truly shocking.
The affected areas are Selous and Mikumi National Parks where, it seems, poachers are reigning supreme in addition to mining activities that are, alarmingly taking place inside the world renown Serengeti National Park.
A few years ago, Tanzania unsuccessfully petitioned Cites to allow it to sell its Ivory stockpiles on the international markets and had a serious diplomatic spat with Kenya over what, Tanzania felt, was Kenya's intransigence on this matter as Kenya led the opposition to this quest citing dwindling elephant herds.
It seems Kenya has been vindicated of the need for serious concerted joint conservation efforts following the additional grave case, of sale of wildlife to a Qatar Consortium that has resulted in the summary sacking of former Director of Wildlife among other 3 others, found culpable in this incident.
While Tanzania was attempting to present a case of efficiency in protecting its heritage, as justification for the call to be allowed to dispose its stockpiles in the open market, in reality the pot was leaking as the poaching syndicate was busy at work, with support of senior government functionaries , the same ones charged with responsibility to protect this heritage.
Fast forward to this past week and the government, through Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Wildlife Hon Lazaro Nyalandu, was openly acknowledging that the wildlife protection bureau, had lost the plot and that 25% of the ivory being tracked & seized on the world market between 1989 and 2010 were illegally sourced from Tanzania.
If you add this to the acknowledgement that mining activities, an environmental anathema to wildlife conservation areas are happening in Serengeti and you have a government whose work is well cut out for itself.
With the benefit of hindsight, Kenya was, to be honest, never the problem. In fact, the position taken then that selling ivory in the open market, would fuel the mass killing of elephants by poachers, seems to have come to pass for Tanzania.
The problem was, and has always been, the wanton decimation of the wildlife heritage in the protected areas, with complicit knowledge of the very officials charged with responsibility to protect them. The Serengeti/Mara heritage is where yearly hundreds of thousands wildebeest migrate between Tanzania and Kenya followed by Thomson's Gazelles and Zebras in an annual migration estimated at 6 million hooves. It is a spectacle for tourists and a world heritage conservation area.
Owing to its significant biodiversity, and the fact that animals do not recognize man made borders, the Serengeti/Mara ecosystem is dependent on being conserved and enhanced. What needs to be done today is for East African Forestry, Wildlife Protection and game reserve and national park management to be conducted under the aegis of the East African Community.
In the words of Minister for Natural Resources & Tourism 116 live animals were trafficked to Qatar by people in this criminal poaching syndicate . For how long shall East Africa's wildlife heritage be trafficked as we claim and counterclaim that the poachers are criminal elements from across the neighbouring countries.
In essence, we also need to involve communities i.e. the Maasai who straddle the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti plains. No conservation efforts shall succeed without involving the local communities no matter all the security agents we have on the ground.
We seem to be working at cross purposes for no single reason other than false sense of national pride. The wildlife that migrates annually are actually telling us something we have not listened to over the years, that animals recognize no borders but are dependent on life cycles that we now need to respect and not to tame.
The onus is upon us to manage this heritage with positive energy rather than push primitive negative energy for wildlife which does not choose nationality but is governed by existential needs to survive.