ARUSHA, Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Wildlife and tourism stakeholders in northern Tanzania joined hands against senseless killings of elephants and rhinos in national parks and game reserves, calling for national dialogues to address the vice.
They aired their views on Tuesday when they met in Mto-wa-Mbu area of Arusha, which is the main gate-way to Lake Manyara National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Authority Area (NCAA) and Serengeti National Park.
The meeting was meant to give room for stakeholders to extensively discuss the fate of the country’s wildlife and tourism sectors, which in recent years overwhelmed with poaching activities.
“As government, we are very concerned with what is going on the ground. Poaching poses a serious threat to the tourism industry and the well-being of our people,” said Jowika Kasunga, the district commissioner for Monduli
Kasunga expressed concern over the trend that seemed to continue despite measures which are in place, calling for concerted efforts in addressing poaching.
“This is a challenge that affects all of us, the government and the private sector. So, there is an urgent need for all of us to find a platform and find lasting solution.”
“There are those people who own wildlife ‘farms’ in different parts of the country, whom I suspect to have hands in fuelling poaching in our national parks and game reserves,” the DC said, pointing fingers on the so-called investors.
“We should start thinking beyond the box, and look at these people who own wildlife ‘farms’ as they might be sponsoring poachers by giving them weapons and assuring them with markets of ivory,” Kasunga told tour operators, wildlife stakeholders and ordinary people. “They might have a plan of ensuring that all valuable wild animals are wiped out, so that, they can make tourists to visit their zoos,” he said.
“Our colleagues have hands in the escalating poaching,” the official said, suggesting the need for the use of traditional methods of conservation.
According to him, pastoralist communities like Maasai have been living with wild animals for years, but the use of modern conservation that involve the use of sophisticated weapons are likely to have contributed to poaching.
Ernest Mgonho, a program officer of the African Foundation, described the challenge as a serious thorn to the country’s socioeconomic development.
Mgonho, working close with Arusha-based conservation-led tour operator, said the war against poaching need to involve everybody from children to adult in their localities.
Sirili Akko, executive officer of Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO), said that Tanzania’s tourism is heavily dependent on wildlife. TATO is an umbrella organization for nearly 500 tour companies.
“If you kill the elephant, tourism industry will also die,” the official said, noting that the sector employ thousands of Tanzanian youth either directly or indirectly.
Tour operators blamed the continued poaching on the ready markets for the criminal networks that harvest the merchandise.
It is estimated that Tanzania loses 30 elephants to poaching every day, a shocking 10,000 every year. Elephant population in Tanzania stands at less than 150,000.