Dar es Salaam — The launch of the second national anti-poaching operation is in the pipeline during the next few weeks after some 26 elephants were killed and their tusks taken by poachers in two game reserves last week.
These hardcore suspects are said to be using sub-machine guns. Addressing reporters in Arusha soon after getting the news of the killing of the elephants and the capturing of the poachers, the furious Minister for Natural Resources and Tourims, Lazaro Nyalandu said "We shall soon launch the second phase of the 'National anti-poaching machinery,' (Operation Tokomeza Majangili - II) in line with the country's war against illegal wildlife hunting and ivory trading."
Tanzania has joined the global war on ivory trading. The initiative involves China, which is a lucrative outlet for the smuggled tusks, the United Nations and the International Police (INTERPOL).
In the killing incident of the 26 elephants last week, in Manyoni district Singida region, six people suspected to be poachers were arrested at Kiyombo Village of Manyoni District, Singida Region in connection with a consignment of 55 elephant tusks weighing 170 kilogrammes.
The Minister stressed further that despite the enormous challenges the government was against poaching, it will ensure that all killers are hunted down and apprehend with their allies everywhere.
In the late 1980s, Tanzania, home to Africa's second-largest elephant population, led the war on poaching and championed the international ban on ivory trading that was adopted in 1989.
Today, it is the epicentre of the poaching epidemic sweeping through the continent's forests and savannas.
A third of all the illegal ivory seized in Asia comes from or through Tanzania. The country is losing 30 elephants a day, or nearly 11,000 a year. Nearly half the country's elephants have been shot, speared or poisoned since 2007, leaving scarcely 60,000 in total.
At the London Conference on Illegal Trade, President Jakaya Kikwete appealed to the international community to impose a total ban on trade of ivory and rhino horns to protect the wildlife from extinction.
Describing the London conference as a historic opportunity to take a landmark decision to save elephants and rhinos, Kikwete said he was optimistic the international community would pronounce itself on supporting developing nations in the war against poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
Tanzania has in the past unsuccessfully tried to seek permission from the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species and Fauna (CITES) to sell off the stockpile but lately dropped the plans as a measure to ensure trade in ivory and rhino horns is totally banned to protect wildlife.
Kikwete told the conference that Tanzania will put itself in an awkward position in the international community if it insisted on selling the ivory while at the same time it has been appealing for total ban on the trade.
Sources within the government have, however, hinted that it was mostly likely that the stockpile would be destroyed since preserving it was costly.
Many countries including China and United States have in the past destroyed impounded stockpile and Tanzania is mostly likely to do the same.