A measure of hope was being raised by the Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu, in relation to what the government can do to tackle the danger of total extinction of elephants, on the basis of news summaries of the press conference the deputy minister gave on Friday.
He appeared to suggest that there is a specific or elaborate ministerial plan to tackle the problem, and also intimated the start of a new authority for wildlife protection.
Without a survey of opinion one can’t say how many people reacted with a minimum of relief or hope for change in that area, but chances are that skepticism must have greeted that announcement, evidently.
There was in the first place a measure of deception when a daily newspaper talked about the deputy minister revealing the ‘secret’ behind wanton elephant carnage, and reading the details it seemed that it is a sharp price rise in the Far East for trophies.
That observation did not qualify to be called a ‘secret,’ and in like manner there was little of a ministerial plan worth the name that was visible from the deputy minister’s remarks, not even the formation of new authority on wildlife.
It was easy to see that this sort of organizational caveat, to create hopes that a new constitutive body would work differently, is merely a time buying tactic, also carrying political bearings.
One datum that the deputy minister unearthed in his remarks that should have underlined the need for massive organizational change in the entire natural resources sector is an observation on the elephant population in the Selous-Mikumi ecological zone, a vast national park or rather two national parks.
The deputy minister noted that the population of jumbos in the area had, since 2009 where nearly 39,000 jumbos were to be found, had now declined to around 20,000- which represents a loss close to 50 per cent of total wildlife in the area.
If half of the jumbo population is cut down in four years, how does the government reverse the trend, with the same people?
That is what deputy minister Nyalandu can’t get away from, that any new administrative authority to be formed by the government will carry most people in the current Tanzania National Parks Authority set up, and that means it is ‘old wine in new bottles.’
There are even a few who a bit cynically take it that the deputy minister is seeking to underline a minimum of vision and zeal in tackling existing problems as part of the guesswork as to filling the vacant post as the minister had to quit or was sacked recently.
That could be excessive but it is unlikely that a sort of revolution has occurred in terms of how the government looks at the wildlife issue, only due to the sackings.
There is an aspect of things that no ministerial review at the technical level can sort out, namely how one finds agents to take care of wildlife, whose hearts are with the wildlife, and not in the cash that can be obtained by trading the wildlife, as is now the case.
Things reached a point where ex-minister Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki was pointing a finger, publicly at the Arusha Regional Crimes Officer, and no one heard that ex-IGP Saidi Mwema came to any conclusions about those accusations.
Not even the media saw much in the issue, and when he was sacked they were quick to point out that he had differences with the Bukoba mayor. It could be for similar reasons. Experts point out that one major reason for the higher level of stability of the Serengeti National Park is the role of the Frankfurt Zoological Society, whose vocation is the preservation of nature and protection of wildlife.
That oversight lacks in other reserves; so if the government really wants to preserve wildlife it must hand over different national parks and game reserves to agencies having a passion for animals, intention to protect them.
They can be qualified as agents of the Tanzania Revenue Authority for all consequent revenue issues. Isn’t that more workable?