By Waryoba Yankami
President Jakaya Kikwete has ordered the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism to suspend plans to selling the ivory stockpile, saying it could provide a loophole for illegal dealers to unload their hoard.
He said it was better for the stockpile to be destroyed at this time when the country has intensified the war against poaching, to deny poachers loophole to sell their illegal hoard.
President Kikwete issued the directive on Tuesday in Dar es Salaam during the launching of anti-poaching billboards to sensitise people to join fight against poaching.
The president left for London to attend the Conference on Combating illegal Trade and Trafficking of Elephant, Rhino and Tiger which starts today.
He said the government will soon start using new technology to identify those who spot the animals and rangers.
“We are going to introduce drones for surveillance in our national parks…we hope that other nations will give us support to completely fight poaching networks”.
Kikwete however noted that apart from elephant poaching other animals like lions and leopard have also been killed in the country.
“This kind of poaching involves the killing of lions and leopards due to their skins being in high demand by some leaders who use them as their symbols,” Kikwete said, adding however that their numbers are still satisfactory.
Other animals were being killed for their meat, said to be in high demand in various parts of the world.
Kikwete said efforts by the government to fight poaching in the country will not be successful unless there is a total ban on ivory trade.
He said that during his participation in the meeting in London, his campaign message to western countries and the world at large will be a call for a total ban of Ivory trade. He said the mass slaughter of elephants in the 1970s and 1980s, led to the global ivory trade ban by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
According to him, Thailand, Bangkok, Vietnam and China are the major ivory markets in the world and if they and the world in general agree to stop buying the trophies, they will boost the campaign against poaching.
The president admitted that there are challenges in the fight against poaching, including the parks being too large…Selous national park is more than 200,000 square kilometers.
The president said in fact deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) test of ivory seized in Sri Lanka recently showed that the tusks were from Selous and Ruaha national parks, which shows that Tanzania is contributing a lot to the illegal international ivory market.
Earlier welcoming the president, deputy minister for tourism and natural resources, Mahmoud Mgimwa said that inadequate money and working tools are obstacles to fight poaching.