By Khalfan Said
The government intends to table a bill in the 15th parliamentary meeting for the establishment of a Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TWA).
The authority is intended to take charge of all activities currently supervised by the Wildlife Division in the ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. The intention was announced on Monday by Tourism and Natural Resource deputy minister, Lazaro Nyalandu who visited game rangers at Selous game reserve.
The deputy minister’s trip followed a concern that game rangers were discouraged by the alarming elephant poaching as the government suspended the operation to eliminate poachers dubbed “Operation Tokomeza” last month. The deputy minister was accompanied by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Maimuna Tarishi and the Acting Assistant Director of Wildlife Development, Keraryo Herman.
Nyalandu said his ministry will next week circulate a code of conduct to all managers of game reserves and national parks to educate game rangers so as to improve their ability on handling suspects and criminals.
According to Nyalandu, at least 60 elephants were reported to have been killed in various national parks and game reserves in the country since the suspension of operation tokomeza.
“In just 50 days since the suspension of the operation, more than 60 elephants have been killed that is to say at least one Jumbo (Elephant) was butchered a day,” he said.
The suspension of operation tokomeza came as a result of scathing criticism from law makers, NGOs and the general public that the operation was compounded with human rights abuse and killings of innocent people and domestic animals.
“You have an obligation to this beautiful nation, to protect the wildlife and our forestry for the betterment of our people and the coming generation,” he told game rangers, emphasising, “the government is working on addressing all challenges that you’re facing.”
He said TWA will be independent in making decisions and managing day to day activities in game reserves including employment and remuneration to its staff.
“We have a deficit of 4,700 game rangers across the country, under the current system, the Wildlife Division has no mandate to decide on the number of staff to be recruited,” he said.
Four ministers from various key ministries including ministers for Natural Resources and Tourism, Khamisi Kagasheki, Defence and National Service, Shamsi Vuai Nahodha, Home Affairs, Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi and Fisheries and Livestock Development, Dr Mathayo David Mathayo were sacked by President Jakaya Kikwete, following the intense pressure from Parliament asking all ministers to take responsibility following the mishandling of the operation.