On Sunday, the government announced that at least 60 elephants were killed in less than two months, following the suspension of the controversial 'Operation Tokomeza' last month, after widespread claims of atrocities during its execution.
The claims included cases of murder, rape, torture, extortion and wanton shooting of livestock found grazing in national parks and game reserves.
It is said that hundreds of cattle were shot dead by officials who presided over the anti-poaching drive. The operation was intended to curb poaching of elephants, rhinos and other endangered wildlife species that were on the threat of extinction.
Poaching is reportedly being fuelled by increased demand for elephant and rhino ivory in Asia, where a kilogramme is more expensive than gold. Official records show that at independence in December 1961, the country had a population of 350,000 elephants, but hardly 20 years later the number had declined to 55,000.
The records further show that the number of elephants had by 2009 dropped to 10,000 - something that needed serious redress and 'Operation Tokomeza' was seen as the right solution. Addressing Parliament in Dodoma last month, President Jakaya Kikwete pointed out that poaching in the country was real and the nation cannot remain silent on the matter.
The Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Lazaro Nyalandu, expressed his concern on Sunday, saying some poachers have taken advantage of the suspension of 'Operation Tokomeza' to continue with the killing spree.
Mr Nyalandu urged for continued observation of wildlife laws and regulations to safeguard elephants, rhinos and other endangered species for the interests of present and future generations. We are not alone. Elsewhere on the continent, the slaughter of elephants continued unabated, with mass killings reported in Cameroon and DRC.
The demand for rhino horns has also been growing in Vietnam, where a newly affluent class has been buying it to treat ailments ranging from hangovers to cancer. More....