A world-renowned conservationist has called upon Tanzania and Kenya to engage China in earnest discussion for ban of ivory trade to salvage the remaining elephant population.
Dr Paula Kahumbu, Executive Director of the Kenya Land Conservation Trust and Wildlife, said Tanzania and Kenya need to work closely with the Government of China, a Far East hub for ivory trade, to outlaw the illegal trade.
“China is a role model for the ivory trade, the moment China bans ivory trade, all the countries like Vietnam, Malaysia and others would definitely follow suit”, Dr Kahumbu said in Arusha on Saturday to mark the second day of Karibu Travel Market Tanzania 2014 festival that opened on Friday.
During the International Anti-poaching meeting held in Dar es Salaam recently, the Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania, Lu Youqing, said China had taken deliberate measures to help stop illegal trade in wildlife products from Africa.
“China has enacted stringent laws opposed to importation of wildlife products, ivory in particular.
There is no option of penalty for convicted culprits apart from serving long jail sentences. China will continue to support Africa in the fight against poaching,” Lu insisted.
The chairman of Tanzania Ports Authority, Prof Joseph Msambichaka, spoke strongly against operations of clandestine or undeclared ports and called for concerted efforts by the authorities and all wellwishers to help plug such outlets which allow illegal import and export of goods including ivory.
The Tanzania Associations of Tour Operators (TATO) owned Karibu TMT, the second largest tourism show in natural resource-rich-continent of Africa after Indaba in South Africa, is registered with the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
The theme of this year’s show taking place in Arusha is ‘Sustainable Conservation’ which is reflection of TATO’s ‘foreign policy’ existing for the last three decades. Tanzania tourism stakeholders mainly TATO members, invited Dr Kahumbu to Karibu TMT to share her vast experience on a community based conservation and the campaign against elephant poaching in Kenya.
“Poachers are not only decimating elephants for ivory, but also threatening our multibillion- dollar tourism industry.
Tourism is not complete without elephants”, Dr Kahumbu told both international and local media covering the Karibu TMT show in Tanzania’s northern Safari capital of Arusha. Records indicate that Tanzania loses nearly 10,000 elephants per year through poaching, whereas Kenya loses 365 elephants annually.
Kenya lost 873 elephants through poaching between the year 2011 and 2014, reports from the Kenya Wildlife Service indicate.
The jumbos killed in Kenya translates to 1,746 tusks illegally in the hands of poachers. The chairperson of the Karibu TMT organizing committee, Vesna Glamocanin Tibaijuka, said the presence of Dr Kahumbu would allow sharing of valid information and experience with regard to conservation and mitigation of human-wildlife conflict in East Africa.
This year’s fair attracted more than 8,000 visitors from the East African Community (EAC) partner states, South Africa, China, the US, and Europe. The forum has offered travel partners in the region the opportunity to meet their counterparts from around the world.
TATO Chairman, Willy Chambullo warned that unless this generation makes extra efforts to battle against poaching, there might be no elephants for next generations to see in the natural wild.
“We need to join hands to rescue elephants from being decimated by poachers. We need these animals to remain for future generations to appreciate. Our ancestors did, so we can”, Chambullo insisted.