By Masako Melissa Hirsch
Tanzanian officials visited Dallas Thursday to discuss the country’s issue with poaching.
Lazaro Nyalandu, Tanzania’s minister of natural resources and tourism, and several other officials met with representatives from the Dallas Safari Club and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Thursday morning to talk about Tanzania’s efforts to curb poaching, as well as share ideas.
Nyalandu was in the United States this week as part of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington. He said he hoped to convince U.S. officials to lift their ban on ivory, which was instated earlier this year in hopes of stemming poaching. Yet Nyalandu said that removal of the ban would expand regulated hunting in the country, which in turn would help fund efforts to stop poachers.
“That ban benefits the poachers,” he said. “It only assures that more elephants will get killed.”
International demand for ivory has incentivized poachers to go after elephants across Africa. Tens of thousands of elephants are being killed each year across the continent for their ivory tusks. Several leaders, including Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, held a panel discussion Monday at the summit to discuss the issue.
Tanzania currently allows regulated hunting safaris. Such regulations in Tanzania and other African countries have drawn debate between animal rights activists and hunters about the best way to protect dwindling species of elephants, lions and rhinos, among other animals. Groups such as the Dallas Safari Club say legal hunting provides needed funding for conservation efforts.
“If you bring in regulated hunters, they might pay $50,000 to shoot that same lion,” said Dallas Safari Club President Chris Hudson, who organized the meeting.
The Dallas Safari Club became part of the debate earlier this year when it auctioned a hunt for a black rhinoceros, a species listed as endangered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. The auction raised $350,000, but club officials said they hoped it would have raised closer to $1 million.
Nyalandu said he has instituted several changes to the country’s hunting laws in the last few weeks. He reduced the number of elephants that can be hunted by 50 percent and raised the age of lions that can be hunted from four to six years old.
“It’s important for America and America’s private sector to understand how far Tanzania has come,” he said.