ARUSHA, Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzania is seeking reviewing wildlife legislation to impose stiffer regulations and penalties against wildlife poachers and ivory smugglers, a senior government official said on Saturday.
Lazaro Nyalandu, Tanzania’s Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, disclosed the new development in Arusha when speaking alongside the ongoing regional summit on stopping wildlife crime and advancing wildlife conservation.
The summit, which involves delegates from nine countries was meant to extensively discuss strategies and approaches towards scaling down elephant and other wildlife poaching.
“Elephant poaching is very serious, that’s why we are planning to bolster current lenient sentences for convicted wildlife poachers or ivory smugglers to scale down elephant and other wild animal killings,” said Nyalandu.
“Our wildlife laws are outdated and need to be reviewed for greater protection of wild animals as well as penalizing heavily people who will be behind poaching incidents in its national parks and game reserves,” the minister said, adding that “We are determined to fight poachers at all levels to save wild animals in our wildlife sanctuaries.”
According to him, legal expert from the ministry have started working on the matter before developing the bill that is to be taken to the National Assembly for approval.
“Very soon we’ll repeal the current laws and replace with new laws to save the remaining wildlife in the country’s wilderness,” he said.
“I am not happy with the current laws because of the magnitude of penalties given to poachers. As a ministry, we’ll soon review those laws,” he said.
“Tanzania shares major ecosystems with its neighboring countries which have a diverse of wildlife resources, this call for a collective responsibility to protect it,” said James Lembeli, chairman of Tanzania’s Parliamentary Committee on Land, Environment and Natural Resources.
“Poaching targets elephants for their ivory due to existing high demand and prices in the international black market. Organized and intricate poaching networks in and outside the country sustain this illegal trade, thus making it difficult for Tanzania alone to win the battle,” he said.
Since last year Tanzania impounded more than 3,000 weapons including modern firearms like AK 47 and assorted hand-made guns which were used in poaching incidents.
Nearly 2,000 suspected poachers have been arrested in Tanzania and some of their cases are in different country’s courts.
Poachers kill an estimated 30 elephants every day in Tanzania, or about 850 every month. The number of elephants dropped from 130, 000 in 2002 to 109,000 in 2009 and wildlife experts have warned that the entire population could be wiped out by 2020 if the trend continues.