By Lawi Joel
The fight between the government and elephant poachers appears to be an amusing battle, but one that the culprits appear to be winning hands down to the chagrin of the nation's younger generation.
It is a skirmish raging in the country's jungles, across rivers and lakes to the streets of urban centres, mostly in the highways and alleys of the country's commercial centre of Dar es Salaam and right across the Indian Ocean to the capitals of Tanzania's chief international trade partners in the East.
Indeed, a war it is that is marked by amazing scenes. Such a spectacle as East African governments and Tanzania in particular are having in their frantic fight against poachers make the fight even more humorous. But the humour does not take away the pain destined to hurt the country for a long time to come.
It is a pain that is cutting deep into the very economic jugular vein of the nation while some people in positions of power and who could stop it, sip tea with a half cake in air conditioned offices or a five-star hotel by the seaside. In 2010, Tanzania seized a 90-tonne stockpile of ivory it from poachers in the country.
The size of the pile alone shows how determined poachers are and the sure way the tuskers' community is going - extinction. That ivory stockpile was what the government had for the previous over three decades seized from various sources. Somehow, sometime the government had also intervened more illegal ivory.
More of the trophy had likewise been handed over to the authorities. In the end, the government found itself with a stockpile of ivory it thought best to sell as the only way to make up for the tourist loss to some extent.
Kenya criticized the move as potentially encouraging to poachers, who would consider buyers of that illegal trophy a sure market. Incidentally, the north-eastern neighbour of Tanzania had likewise found itself with such a stockpile but eliminated it otherwise.
In the late 1980s, the then Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi torched tens of hundreds of tonnes of ivory tusks, whose value was then estimated at $1 million, in an official gesture of commitment to eradicating elephant poaching. Then again, sometime in July 2011 Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki set on fire nearly five tonnes of ivory worth of $16 million.
It was all an effort to drive home the country's determination to exterminate poaching of tuskers. It was quite contrary to what Tanzania would have done. More....