By Jimmy Mfuru
Government launches manhunt for poachers.
The population of the critically-endangered black rhinos in Tanzania's Serengeti Park is increasingly being reduced after another rhino was killed on Thursday night.
The prestigious mammal was found dead yesterday morning at Moru area in the southern part of Serengeti, with three foreign poachers linked to the killing of the eastern black rhino.
The survival of rare wildlife species that are the main magnet of the multi-million dollar tourism industry is under threat, a recent study has established.
Speaking to journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the deputy minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu said the carcass of the rhino was found on Thursday night by game rangers on patrol.
He said the rhino was shot dead and its horns taken away, noting that the government has launched a search for the poachers believed to be from a neighbouring country.
Nyalandu said the government is searching for them, urging the public to provide any information that may lead to their arrest.
After receiving the information the government through the ministry in collaboration with the police took urgent initiatives to search out the poachers within Serengeti and Ngorongoro conservation area.
A rapid response team of 20 game officers armed with special weapons has since been dispatched to the area in an effort to find the poachers.
The Serengeti national park is home to 32 rhinos. Some five eastern black rhinos were transferred from South Africa to the Serengeti, where they were received by President Jakaya Kikwete in 2010.
George, one of five eastern black rhinos (Diceros bicornis michaeli) that had been translocated from South Africa in May 2010, was killed in December 2012.
Nyalandu said poaching in the country is intensifying, though he remained confident that government efforts will reverse the trend.
The government, according to the deputy minister, was implementing recommendations made by the parliamentary committee led by James Lembeli.
Among other things, the committee recommended the creation of a presidential Judicial Commission to investigate allegations made against the handling of ‘Operation Tokomeza.’
“The government intends to carry out another operation after fixing problems which occurred in the earlier operation, resulting in the suspension of 23 officials facing various accusations, including taking bribes and helping poachers,” the deputy minister noted.
Rhino poaching has increased rapidly in recent years, predominantly due to a growing demand for the rhino horn used in traditional medicines in countries like Thailand and Vietnam.
Rampant poaching in the Serengeti during the 1960s and 1970s saw the population of East African black rhinos drop from more than 1,000 to a mere 70 in Tanzania.
Once found across Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda, the animals are now found in Kenya – where the majority live – and northern Tanzania.
Generally poaching has been on the rise in recent months, with elephant deaths rising dramatically since the government abandoned a shoot-to-kill policy against poachers.
Records show that 60 elephants were butchered in November and December, compared with two in October.
Last week three poachers were nabbed with 37 kilogram of elephant tusks. The poachers were names as Salome Aloyce, a resident of Sinza in Dar es Salaam, Rajab Omar who resides in Kigogo also in Dar es Salaam and Kadili Kisanduku, a taxi driver in Ugenza Mufindi.
The trio was arrested while transporting the ivory in a saloon car with registration number T580 ABL. The animal products belonged to one Florian Elias, a Dar es Salaam resident.