By Florence Majani
Government research shows that 30 elephants are slaughtered a day by poachers in the country.
Ever more of them are going to the grave – and their deaths are haunting the Tanzanian economy.
They are Tanzania's elephants, the second-largest national herd in Africa, after Botswana. There are 70 000 of them, mainly concentrated in the world's largest game park and Unesco World Heritage Site, the Selous Game Reserve, and in the Serengeti, Katavi, Enduimet and Ugalla reserves.
According to the government's Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, Tanzania loses 30 elephants a day to poachers. Total numbers are now less than a third of what they were in the 1960s.
"At the end of the year, you're talking about 10 000 elephants killed," says James Lembeli, chairperson of Parliament's natural resources committee and a former parks official. "Move around this country where you have populations of elephants: carcasses everywhere."
In 2011, more than 65% of the carcasses encountered on patrols in Selous had been killed by poachers.
On his visit to Tanzania last month, United States President Barack Obama pledged $10-million to curb the illegal ivory trade. He called for the formation of a dedicated Cabinet committee to develop a national strategy on the issue within six months.
A 2011 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) report indicates that, since 2009, most illegal ivory has come from Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa. Last year, it reported that most ivory consignments left through the Indian Ocean seaports of Tanzania and Kenya. The statistics also show that Kenya and Tanzania together accounted for 16 of the 34 large-scale ivory seizures recorded from 2009 through 2011. More....