Tanzania marks National Elephant DayThe National Elephant Day in Tanzania was ‘borrowed’ from the World Elephant Day which is marked annually on August 12th. In Tanzania, the National Elephant Day was officially, first marked, on September 22nd 2011. Since then, this date was declared a National Elephant Day and it is marked every year. The decision to mark the auspicious day was mooted, during a meeting held in 2010 which passed the National Elephant Management Plan (2011 to 2015).
The foregoing meeting was a follow up to the CITES meeting held in Doha, Qatar in 2010 and attended by 37 African elephant range states. In the CITES meeting, the participants passed the African Elephant Action Plan designed to protect elephants whose continued existence was increasingly being threatened by poaching.
The marking of the National Elephant Day, is therefore, aimed at bringing about, among other things, awareness globally and Tanzania citizens about the plight of elephants which is threatened by illegal wildlife trade and poaching and increasing human-elephant conflicts as well as habitat and range loss and fragmentation. The elephant is one of WWF’s flagship species which the organization has for many years been supporting its conservation and management. In particular, WWF has been working in the Selous Game Reserve (SGR) and the adjacent dispersal areas which forms the Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) that forms the critical corridor which links the Niassa Game Reserve in northern Mozambique. The greater ecosystem has seen a drastic decline in the elephant population in the last five years from almost 100,000 to a mere 15,000, hence the need for awareness creation among the people living close to the SGR, on the importance of protecting elephants from poaching to avoid extinction. The bringing of awareness to these people is due to the fact that poachers don’t drop from the sky like the biblical manna, but are not only bred between and among the very people who live close to the SGR, but also live among the same people. Hence, the commemoration of the National Elephant Day is one of the activities under the elephant programme.
TCO joined by TAWA and the Namtumbo District management will be marking the day in Lusewa village Namtumbo. The main objective of this years’ National Elephant Day commemoration is to create community awareness on elephant conservation. As part of the commemoration activities . TCO has been facilitating awareness activities in in three villages namely Magazine, Mandela and Matipwende.
- The planned awareness included three activities, namely; (a) Essay writing competition: Essays on conservation by primary and secondary school pupils to be undertaken supervised by the District Council Educational Office, (b) Community public debates: community education and awareness on elephant conservation and management including policies and legislation and mitigating the challenges; and, (c) Film shows: relevant film shows that relate to conservation and elephants in particular would be shown in the evening in market centres.
- The climax of the National Elephant Day will be preceded by a banners-carrying demonstrators with conservation messages to the venue to increase WWF publicity lead by a band. Speeches will be made by high level government officials.
- Students and pupils from College, secondary and primary schools would be part of the programme
- Some entertainments in the form of plays and traditional dances will also be organized.