By Marc Nkwame
Arusha — Six people, believed to be habitual poachers, were arrested in the early hours of Monday with a consignment of 55 elephant tusks weighing over 170 kilogrammes believed to have been extracted from 26 freshly-killed jumbos.
The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Lazaro Nyalandu, stated that the six were nabbed with the government trophies at Kayombo village in Manyoni District, Singida Region, some hours after midnight on Monday.
They are presently being held at the Manyoni Police Station. They were also found with a sub-machine gun with three magazines and early reports indicate that the six had been on a jumbo killing mission in the Rungwa and Kizigo game reserves located in the district.
"We have dispatched a team of rangers as well as police officers to comb the entire reserves because intelligence reports suspect more culprits could still be in the forest with more government trophies," Mr Nyalandu said.
The search team will also be on the lookout for the car casses of the killed jumbos. The development comes at the time when the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism has been finalising its quarterly report on poaching in Tanzania for the first three months of 2014, which will be tabled in Arusha in the course of this week.
The report tabling will coincide with the launching of the second phase of anti-poaching operation dubbed 'Operation Tokomeza' "Tanzania has joined the global war on ivory trading, which also involves China, known for its tusk and ivory smuggling outlet notoriety, the United Nations and International Police (INTERPOL)," Mr Nyalandu revealed.