By Kenan Kalagho
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanania - Tanzania’s 90 metric tonne stockpile of ivory valued at about $50 million si to be destroyed.
Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete was speaking last week in Dar es Salaam while launching an advertising campaign on anti-poaching.
He said burning the tusks would send a signal to poachers that the country was now serious over the slaughtering of its elephants.
This means that Tanzania has now joined other countries like Kenya, Japan , France and the United States that have for long supported destroying ivory stockpiles instead of putting them up for sale through auctions.
This has been a hard time for Tanzania which has for long argued for the sale of the ivory stockpile in order to finance the anti-poaching campaigns including the recruitment of game rangers and help to subsidise personnel salaries.
President Kikwete said it is high time the country suspended any plans for selling the ivory stockpile.
He said this would further the ill intentions of the poachers and further reduce the number of elephants which currently stands at 13,084 from the previous population of over 100,000 recorded in the early 1970s.
He said the country would destroy the entire ivory stockpile in order to intensify the fight against poaching that will also aim to send a severe signal to poachers and deny them market opportunities.
“We will soon start using the high tech of drone surveillance in all our national parks to protect the both elephants and other animals that are been the target in the country like lions and leopards,” Kikwete said. He said the country can rely on positive international support.
He said the efforts of the government on anti-poaching would only be realized if there is a total ban on ivory trade throughout the region and the whole world at large.
He also said countries like China, Vietnam, and Thailand should advocate for a ‘no ivory buying’ campaign to boost anti-poaching efforts.
The President however said that the catchment areas being occupied by the country’s national parks were not that easy to combat illegal poaching especially with the country’s financial capacity at carrying out anti-poaching exercise.
“Selous National Park is more than 200,000 square kilometres, and this is a great challenge when it comes to fighting against poaching in the country” he said.