Poaching for elephant tusks and rhino horns in Tanzanian wildlife sanctuaries is such a lucrative business. All criminal poachers know this.
It is a money spinner that has enticed illegal hunters from as far afield as Somalia and China. For them, it is easy to wander into Tanzania's National Parks, shoot elephants and rhinos, dislodge the tusks and horns and shunt them out of the country with little or no harassment at all, especially when you rope in corrupt local wildlife officials.
And of course, the price of the contraband is a complete rip-off especially in the Arab World or India. Poachers at home and abroad know this. Well, those who join the fray are seriously wrong. Tanzania is all out to flush out poachers to protect its wildlife come what may.
Poachers now pay a hefty price for their folly. Early this week, a Chinese national, one Yu Bo, was thrown into jail for 20 years after failing to pay a fine of 9bn/- for unlawful possession of government trophies worth more than 978m/-.
The convict pleaded guilty to the offence rather readily knowing that he could not go the distance in the legal wrangle. It is unthinkable that a Chinese national or any other foreigner should enter any of our national parks and engage in poaching.
Senior Resident Magistrate Devota Kisoka told the offending Chinese man that she imposed a harsh sentence on him so it serves as deterrence against poaching in this country. She was right. Too many criminals are out there intent on poaching.
It is the greed for money that drives poachers into our game reserves. President Jakaya Kikwete told the nation recently that poaching has reached disheartening proportions. He said that the elephant population has plummeted to 13,084 from around 38,000 in 2009.
Indeed, poachers must be stopped in their tracks. Elephants, rhinos and other wild animals should be given chance to thrive. The president said that the nation was scaling up its anti-poaching campaigns. Yes, this is the action that must be taken drastically.
Former campaigns such as Kipepeo and Tokomeza made some gains but did not stem the rot. More than 2,000 suspected poachers were arrested and their weapons, including hunting rifles and ammunition were impounded. The criminals got a good hammering.
This was a move in the right direction but the mission was not accomplished fully. The poachers are out of their lair again and are gunning down elephants and rhinos with complete abandon. What is needed now is a sustainable anti-poaching campaign.