By Wolfgang H. Thome
Information emerged from Dar es Salaam over the weekend, that the Tanzanian government, through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, has cut their annual hunting quota for elephant by 50 percent in order to help restore numbers of the largely-decimated herds.
Over the past several years, Tanzania has lost tens of thousands of elephant to poaching gangs with little intervention from a government which was either not aware or looked the other way, even when the extent of the problem was described by conservationists. It was only relentless pressure from abroad which made the country slowly own up to the crisis and started taking countermeasures on the effectiveness of which the jury is still out.
“It is too little too late,” commented a source when passing the information before continuing, “We have not heard about the list of 300 which was compiled by Amb. Kagesheki when he was minister. We have not seen any prominent names taken to court. But in fairness, cutting hunting permits is a good start, though the final outcome should be to ban hunting altogether and turn all the hunting blocks into conservancies for the purpose of tourism.
“Countries which still support hunting will be the ones hunted in the court of public opinion and in the social media, and we should remember how damaging the anti-Serengeti highway campaign was for us. The minister should also tell the public what the reduction means in real numbers, how many elephant hunting permits were given last year, and how many will be given this year. And we also like to know if it is not the ban to import trophies from Tanzania into the United States which has reduced demand so that those permits are not taken up anyway any longer.”
The announcements by the minister were reportedly made at a meeting with the American Ambassador to Tanzania during which Amb. Childress pledged more material support for anti-poaching and pro-conservation measures.