Magistrates Commit to support Wildlife Crimes eradication

Posted on 24 September 2020

WWF Tanzania in collaboration with the Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA) arranged a study tour for the members of judiciary in the Ruaha National Park as a move to strengthen relations and collaboration between the wildlife management unit and the judiciary who are key players in combating wildlife crimes.
During the tour, the management of the Ruaha National Park and WWF had presentations that led to a fruitful discussion on how all the interested parties can work together to see wildlife crimes solved and on a timely manner.
“We cannot succeed with this if we will not work together, there are so many unsolved cases in our courts, some awaiting for investigations, some with the accused skipping bails and so many other reasons. It is sad to hear that some of these cases have stayed unconcluded for up to three years! Before we we end this tour I want us to have a common agreement of how we want to move forward and finish these cases immediately” The Presiding judge honorable Sekela Moshi said during a round table discussion between WWF Tanzania, the magistrates and representatives from the Natural Resources and Tourism in Ruaha National Park.
Wildlife crimes cases have been stalling in many of the courts in Tanzania with most of the time reasons being the investigations are not ready or sufficient, lack of strong evidences and witnesses and sometimes the accused jump bails because the bails are being set so low.
By the end of the discussions unanimously all the participants agreed that all the leads of the responsible parties including the responsible ministry, the investigation units and the judiciary will work closed and keep their communication channel open so that they can together work in concluding the cases. They have also agreed that they will be meeting once in a while to compare notes, exchange experiences and review their performances. Another essential deliberation was for the investigation unit to set a specific time to conclude the investigations which will help to speed up these investigations and conclude them on time
“We need to find ways of working together, we need to work as a team and we should probably have trainings once in a while on wildlife and crimes against them. This will help indeed help us in understanding deeply what we are dealing with when these cases come to our courts”, said Justine Ndyanabo the director of prosecution.
After these deliberations it was to go out and enjoy nature and what it has to offer. It was an exciting venture to explore this very vast game reserve which is a home to 10% of all the lions in Africa. And the team was not disappointed they were graced with a lion pride just some few minutes after starting off in the afternoon. This was complimented by a big herd of about 200 buffalos as a nearby water hole, tens of elephants, zebras, giraffes, antelopes without counting the different bird species in the wild of Ruaha!
“It is a sight to be hold! I have heard a lot about these wild animals, but to actually see them this up close and personal is an experience of a life time! They are huge but really innocent at the same time, how can someone mercilessly kill an elephant?!” In awe said Hon Aziza Mbajo from Mbinga. This is confirming the huge responsibility on our shoulders to make sure that culprits of the wildlife crimes are effectively punished. We ought to to each one of us take his or her responsibility seriously and do our jobs”. She added.
The study tour was a part of this year’s commemoration of National Elephant day and World Rhino Day. The tour aimed at cementing an effective working relationship between the arties, and giving the members of the judiciary a first hand experience of the Tanzania wilderness.
 A total of 26 Magistrates including two Presiding judges participated in the tour. WWF used the platform to share the situation of wildlife crimes in the southern part of Tanzania where crimes range between bush meat, hides and skins and poaching, bush meat being the leading.
The Magistrates at Ruaha National Park
© Joan Itanisa