Tanzania Intensifies War Against Poaching
February 2015, Volume 13-1

A host of reports, press releases as well as NGO and stakeholder statements deal with the plans, actions and promises to counter the poaching pandemic in Africa and in this case in Tanzania.

In October 2014 the Tanzanian ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism under Minister Lazaro Nyalandu launched a five-year national strategy to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trade in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The strategy requires USD 51 million for 5 years and is expected to strengthen the capacity of the ministry in terms of conducting intelligence led anti- poaching, highly coordinated law enforcement, and  improvement of rural livelihoods through enhanced community based management of natural resources. The strategy will also raise awareness in supply, transit and destination countries to help change attitudes towards wildlife crime and build international support in a three-pronged approach. This includes strengthening law enforcement through investing in capacity building to bolster law enforcement, establish and maintain national cross agency mechanisms and streamline cross border and regional cooperation through better coordination. It also covers increasing capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities and eradicating poverty.

Vol13_1_art4In December 2015 Minister Lazaro Nyalandu announced that one anti-poaching helicopter was to arrive in December (one helicopter had crashed earlier, killing four), with two additional choppers expected in early 2015, and that the anti-poaching chopper fleet eventually to be expanded to seven. He stated that the government will be sending four pilots for training in South Africa and five others for flying lessons in the United States. The minister also announced that hundreds of new game scouts will be deployed. The minister was speaking during an occasion to receive a donation of five Toyota Land-Cruiser Pickup trucks – fully equipped for anti-poaching and featuring GPS systems – from the Wildlife Conservation Foundation of Tanzania. The vehicles are to be used for anti-poaching missions in the Wildlife Division of the Ministry. “We are going to launch a new anti-poaching squadron in January 2015,” Minister Nyalandu said, explaining further that three of the newly donated vehicles will be dispatched to the Selous Game Reserve while the remaining two are to be sent to KDU Command in Mwanza. The vehicles were handed over by well-known professional hunter and hunting safari operator Eric Pasanisi, who also acts as Executive Vice President and Trustee of the Wildlife Conservation Foundation, in the presence of Tanzania Professional Hunters Association Chairman Mohsin Abdallah Sheni.  Pasanisi thanked the Hunter Legacy Endowment Partnership with Safari Club International, who donated two of the vehicles. Minister Nyalandu told stakeholders in the photographic and hunting tourism industry  that they played a major role in wildlife conservation and commended the hunting companies operating in Tanzania on their role in the fight against poaching.

Also in December Minister Lazaro Nyalandu and Mark B. Childress, United States Ambassador to Tanzania, visited Ruaha National Park to mark the launch of the Southern Highlands and Ruaha-Katavi Protection Program (SHARPP). The $8.2 million five-year program is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and will be implemented by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in partnership with the Government of Tanzania, local NGOs, and local communities. SHARPP will focus on four key areas: wildlife management areas (WMAs); livelihoods; habitat management; and elephant monitoring and protection. The program reaffirms the commitment from all parties to succeed in the fight against poaching.

Ambassador Childress, Minister Nyalandu, and other officials held discussions with law enforcement rangers, Ruaha National Park and SHARPP staff, and WMA leadership to gain a better understanding of the project at hand and challenges faced by conservationists. Ambassador Childress endorsed project goals and the words of the Minister by stressing that in order to succeed, anti-poaching and wildlife conservation efforts in Tanzania require a whole-of-government approach that delivers clear benefits to local communities. In addition to wildlife trafficking in the greater Ruaha and Southern Highlands, unsustainable land and water practices place increasing pressure on natural resources. Through SHARPP, the US Government hopes to address ecological and economic issues in these areas. SHARPP forms part of a much larger US Government commitment to wildlife conservation in Tanzania totaling $40 million over the next five years through USAID.

In January 2015 US Ambassador Mark Childress and German Ambassador Egon Kochanke transferred a significant amount of field equipment for use by game wardens patrolling the Selous Game Reserve. The equipment included small and large tents, torches, maps, binoculars, cameras, uniforms which were donated by individual and industry donors after the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation issued a call to action during the CIC General Assembly in Milan in April 2014. In addition, the German Government announced support toward improvements to infrastructure such as roads, airstrips and housing for game rangers within the game reserve, while the US Government has supplied the expertise of US Marine instructors to train game wardens on patrolling techniques and vehicle maintenance. The US equipment and services are part of a larger Tanzania-wide anti-poaching and wildlife conservation program worth $40 million over the next four years, while the German anti-poaching and wildlife conservation program in Tanzania is worth $51 million (2012 to 2016), including $21 million for the Selous.

The year 2015 will show how the good intentions of the Tanzanian Government, the donor countries – in particular the United States and Germany and their respective agencies – but also of the local stakeholders in the hunting and photographic safari business, will translate into actual success on the ground. African Indaba will continue covering the war against poaching in Tanzania.

Author: Gerhard R Damm