Posted on 22 November 2015
As part of the government’s efforts to combat poaching, the newly formed Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA) should immediately form conservation and protection teams to work round the clock to end this outrageous business
Newly-formed wildlife management and conservation body, the Tanzania Wildlife Authority, would be taking over a range of responsibilities and functions alongside TANAPA, taking care in particular of game reserves, wildlife management areas, hunting blocks, and centralized anti-poaching operations, absorbing and in fact adding to the functions of the former wildlife division in the ministry.
“As part of the government’s efforts to combat poaching, the authority (TAWA) should immediately form conservation and protection teams to work round the clock to end this outrageous business,” The Government of Tanzania said during the inauguration of the Authority, recently in Dar es salaam, insisting on the government’s intention to take stronger measures to end poaching activities.
‘The government has crafted Wildlife Management Authority to reinforce the fight against poaching activities from within and beyond the national borders‘ says Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism. He added that the move is geared to spearhead efforts to combat illegal activity which have ravaged the nation’s wildlife resources.
However, during the event, the Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources suspended all hunting permits and exportation of wildlife products for two years, to allow it to streamline best mechanisms to curb poaching.
The change was in the making for a while, but now TAWA has officially been inaugurated to radically alter the ways of the past when poaching was much lamented and when the previous bodies to fight poaching regularly suffered of shortage of manpower, equipment, and financial resources.
Proper training of the authority’s staff was the key, the Minister said, noting that if possible they should be trained by the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) to acquire enhanced skills and techniques to handle armed adversaries out in the field.
“We quickly need drone technology to man our parks. This could make the detection of poachers easier in huge game reserves like the Selous, and allow immediate action,” he further stated.
The protection teams also need to focus on protecting other animals and not just elephants, he said, urging the new agency to encourage reforestation since a wide variety of wild creatures perish in the course of deforestation.
The last few years saw Tanzania rise to notoriety when commercial-scale poaching led to the wholesome slaughter of tens of thousands of elephants, as documented in some reports to parliament as well as backed up by wildlife census figures from the Selous and Ruaha National Park, with the former game reserves elephant population dwindling since the 2006/7 census to the late 2013, while Ruaha was estimated to have lost half of its population to poaching gangs.
Conservation organizations and conservationists have broadly welcomed the move, though cautioned against too high an expectation during the formative stages of the new body while additional manpower – according to the minister of natural resources and tourism was an immediate addition of over 400 rangers on the cards and additional equipment, including a few helicopters, were being imported.