By Gerald Kitabu
In recent months there have been increased incidents of wildlife crimes where animals like elephants, giraffes, buffaloes and many others are killed by poachers against the law. Our reporter GERALD KITABU interviewed JAMAL JUMA, a legal Officer at Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team (LEAT) on wildlife crimes and their effect to the nation. Excerpts…
QUESTION: What is wildlife crime?
ANSWER: Wildlife crimes can generally be explained as the situation where people buy, sell, harm or disturb wildlife flora and fauna that are protected by the law. In other words, it involves taking, trading, exploiting or possessing of the world’s fauna and flora in contravention of local, national and international laws: These crimes include: smuggling protected species like tortoise shells, ivory and caviar (teeth), illegally trading in endangered species, poisoning of animals, disturbing or killing of wild birds or taking their eggs such as ostrich eggs, poaching of games and fish, cruelty to animals like illegal snaring and violence towards animals and birds.
Q: What is the current situation of wildlife crime?
A: Wildlife crimes are increasing from time to time in our country. It is reported that Tanzania loses about 30 elephants to poaching every day and about 10,000 every year. For instance it was reported that a number of elephants has decreased from 74,900 in 2006 to 43,552 in Selous Game Reserve. A live example is the recent arrest of some defense and security forces who were arrested in connection with ivories and giraffe meat.
Another example is the incident that happened few years back of exportation of two zebras to the Arab Emirates via Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) from Serengeti game reserve and the killing of two elephants that were brought to Tanzania from London and South Africa.
These animals were received by President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete at Mwl. Nyerere International Airport, but two days later, they were reported to have been killed. All these incidents indicate that the situation of wildlife crimes in Tanzania is on the increase.
Q: Why do you think this is so?
A: There are a number of reasons that facilitate wildlife crimes, first it is rampart corruption. Some of our officials are corrupt; they collude with game wardens and some criminals to easily transfer ivory, tortoise shells and animal teeth among many other wildlife products. More....