By Sifa Lubasi
Singida — Four people including the Kayui village executive officer, Mr Philemon Kanyonga, are being held by the police after they were allegedly found in illegal possession of elephant tusks worth 228.5m/- between February and March this year.
Briefing the Minister for Tourism and Natural Resources, Mr Lazaro Nyalandu, about the now-suspended Operesheni Tokomeza, Robert Mande said the suspects were arrested for allegedly being involved in three poaching incidents.
He named the suspects as George Maige and Ally Hamad, who were arrested in February in Mgandu area in Manyoni district, and David Makasi and Joseph Malima, who were arrested last month in Chinangali area in Dodoma.
He said during the operation elephant tusks which were confiscated were valued at 79m/-, adding that they were hidden in Rungwe, Kizingo and Mhesi reserve areas.
Mr Mande said after facing a number of challenges during the special operation they decided to team up with officials from the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area Authority and the Tanzania National Parks Authority to fight elephant poaching.
"Starting February we joined forces in the fight and our starting point was Mitundu-Kiyombo poachers' network from which we managed to arrest five more suspects involved in the deal," he said.
He told the minister that in February they managed to arrest five people who were in illegal possession of elephant ivory worth 143m/-, which was equivalent to 26 elephants killed.
He named those arrested under the operation as including Eliud Seleman (37), Idd Waziri (29), Ramadhani Said (40), Kayonga and Leonard Oscar ( 32). Mande said they were still holding the suspects for questioning as investigations were still ongoing to bust the network.