By Lusekelo Philemon
Three helicopters are to be procured and six pilots trained as well as vehicles to support the airborne surveys with ground logistics will be secured as the government intensifies its anti-poaching campaign.
Addressing the National Assembly yesterday in the nation’s capital, Dodoma, Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu reiterated government’s resolve to addressing the menace that is tarnishing the country’s otherwise pristine image.
Tabling his ministry’s budget estimates for the 2014/2015 fiscal year, the minister said in the next fiscal year, the government in collaboration with Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa) and Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) is to purchase the three brand new helicopters choppers.
Detailing, Nyalandu described the chopper models to be the Robinson helicopter R44 and the Bell Helicopters.
He said one of the helicopters will conduct airborne surveys in the Selous Game Reserve, another will serve NCAA and the last one will be oversee Tanapa jurisdictions.
“All the three helicopters will only do anti-poaching work and will be accompanied by units of vehicles, for ground logistics,” he said.
He said at least 12 vehicles will be manned by well-trained commandos trained at Pasiansi Wildlife Training Institute (PWTI) and authorised to arrest poachers.
“Using helicopter is the best way to fight poaching in the country…it allows us to cover more ground much faster,” he said noting that the government will also deploy new rangers.
Further he revealed e that the government in collaboration with development partners will introduce a basket fund to support r anti-poaching activities with expected auspicious support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“All these, will help address wildlife poaching in the country,” the minister said.
On government’s efforts to promote the country’s tourist destinations, the minister said: “We are in the process of re-branding Tanzania, the country market itself worldwide and give opportunity for tourists to understand Tanzania and its tourist destinations.”
“After the re-branding process, the government will produce adverts that will market Tanzania abroad and thereafter be televised in international media streams such as BBC and CCN all year round,” he explained pointing out that the first advertisement will be ready this June and President Jakaya Kikwete is to officially launch it.
Nyalandu said about 1,135,884 tourists visited Tanzania’s tourist destinations in 2013 and brought in US$1.8 billion compared to 1,077,058 tourists in 2012 who brought in US$1.7 billion.
Noting that Tanzania’s tourism sub-sector contributes 17 percent of the country’s GDP, the minister remained optimistic that the number of tourists will be doubled in the next few years.
The minister was keen to point out that there are other partners who have pumped US$5 million to assist Tanzania’s anti-poaching drive.
Part of the money is for the Tanzania Cheetah Conservation Programme and the other will be used to improve training infrastructures at PWTI and building classrooms of accommodating 300 students as well as purchasing GPS systems.