Editor’s Note (G. Damm): Dr. Kaush Arha is a lawyer, diplomat, academic and conservationist. He is Vice-Chairman of the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF) Group, board director for the Frankfurt Zoological Society-US and vice president of the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation CIC.
Poaching for wildlife parts and meat for domestic consumption is an ongoing phenomenon in Africa, much of it small-scale poaching for domestic consumption in poor communities. However, in the past few years, Africa has witnessed an exponential escalation in poaching, spurred by international demand for elephant ivory and rhino horn. This has corresponded in a striking shift in terms of the focus of poaching (elephant tusks and rhino horns, rather than a range of species including game), numbers poached (herds of up to 400 elephants killed in one day), and tools (poachers using helicopters and high-tech surveillance equipment and weaponry). In Tanzania, the government has taken various measures to combat illegal wildlife trade; these include increasing ranger patrols and launching a special anti-poaching initiative titled ‘Operation Tokomeza’.
Tanzania has signed an agreement with the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to curb the current wave of poaching. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in Dar es Salaam last week by Tanzanian Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism Lazaro Nyalandu, ICCF Vice Chairman Dr. Kaush Arha, and UNDP Acting Resident Representative Philippe Poinsot. The two organizations promised to encourage global commitments to assist the country in the fight against illegal take and trafficking of wildlife.
Nyalandu said that the government has decided to seek support of international organizations so that they can convince the world to stop purchasing illegal ivory and other wildlife products. “Our aim is to ensure that the illegal business comes to an end…we want to save the elephants which are the most hunted,” noted the Minister, adding that poaching of wildlife resources, particularly of elephant tusks, has increased tremendously.
He said with the international community’s intervention Tanzania is sure to win the fight, thus removing the current threat to elephants’ survival. He also cautioned the public that the government will take stern legal measures against anyone found possessing or wearing any illegally trafficked wildlife products.
The Government of Tanzania through the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism (MNRT) Lazaro Nyalandu announced that it will convene a conference to combat wildlife crime and advance wildlife conservation: A Call for Action in collaboration with the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF) of the United States of America and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). This conference is part of the government’s anti-poaching initiatives — it will be attended by key national and international stakeholders in conservation of wildlife and is scheduled to take place on May 9 and 10 2014 in Dar es Salaam. The participants will share expertise, create consensus, and develop recommendations for an immediate, continuing, and sustainable plan of action for the government. “The summit will focus on synthesizing a set of recommendations and action plans,” Nyalandu elaborated.
ICCF Vice Chairman Dr. Kaush Arha stated that the summit offers a platform for Tanzania as a nation to demonstrate its collective national commitment to fight wildlife poaching and smuggling—a commitment which will be sure to encourage additional needed resources from international partners. “The world is already providing support to Tanzania in its efforts against poaching and smuggling of wildlife resources,” he said, adding that the entire world is now focusing on how to back Tanzanian’s dramatic efforts in curbing such illegal activities, especially the killing of elephants, which are increasing daily.
Acting UNDP Country Resident Representative Philippe Poinsot said that UNDP is committed to provide full support to Tanzania through various measures. “We will scale up the efforts and call for action against such illegal activities at the international level,” he promised.
Author: Kaush Arha