By Pius Rugonzibwa
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism has suspended 21 Wildlife Department staff for allegedly colluding with poachers to kill elephants.
Deputy Minister Lazaro Nyalandu told reporters that the suspended employees join their colleague in Singida Region, Augustino Lori, who was recently suspended over poaching and corruption allegations.
He said investigations have shown that there are certain members of the ministry's staff who were directly involved in wildlife sabotage acts in collaboration with criminals, warning that they would be exposed and charged in court.
The suspended staff include 11 from the Anti-Poaching Unit in Arusha, four from the Rukwa- Lwari Forest Reserve , one from the Anti-Poaching Unit in Bunda, three from Maswa Forest Reserve, one from Selous Forest Reserve and one from the Lukwika-Lumesule- Msanjesi Forest Reserve.
"The ministry won't hesitate in dealing with employees who use their position to sabotage the country's natural resources or anybody partnering with poachers to kill wild animals. Tougher measures are going to be taken against them without any delay," he said.
Mr Nyalandu reported that Tanzania was now learning from other countries like South Africa, which have adopted advanced technologies and modern techniques in their anti-poaching operations.
The deputy minister said that besides sharing experiences with other countries, other techniques are being adapted to help the ministry and other relevant state organs to deal with poachers. He called on the public to extend maximum support to facilitate the move.
"We are also communicating with our colleagues in the local government authorities on the best collective action against officials who gang up with our dishonest staff in the acts of sabotage and assist poachers to slaughter our wild animals," he said.
According to Mr Nyalandu, the ministry was increasingly receiving tip-offs from the people on elephant poachers. He pledged appropriate legal action and punishment against culprits.
However, following the launching of the now suspended 'Operation Tokomeza,' a larger section of the public has called on the government to go for the 'brains and financiers' behind poaching activities in the country, that have left more than 100,000 elephants killed over a period of four decades.
On Tuesday, the Police Force arrested Lori in connection with poaching. He was found with two guns and 12 flamingos at the backyard of his house.