By Thobias Mwanakatwe
The UK government has promised to issue subsidies to the government in efforts to support the fight against the rapidly increasing poaching business that has hit hard the country’s key wildlife stock.
The funds raised from the aid facility are expected to enable the government facilitate both human and material forces in the fight against poaching the illegal trade threatening to vanquish the protected elephant species.
The UK Minister responsible for African Affairs, Mark Simmonds pledged the financial boosting during his media briefing in Dar es Salaam yesterday after touring the major Sub-Saharan elephant sanctuary, Selous National park.
The visiting UK Minister said that his government will be issuing subsidies as part of its contribution in the fight against poaching, and this is after he had assessed and noted how much is needed to fight the vice - so that the incoming generation should not learn about the existence of elephants by looking at videos and photos.
The UK minister said that after he had visited the national park he had learnt that the game wardens who look after the animals at the park face lots of challenges, promising to convene a meeting to address those issues at the Commonwealth club level, in Botswana.
Speaking on issues of bilateral ties between the two countries, he said the UK was among countries investing heavily in the country, holding about 37 percent of foreign investment value in the country.
He said the UK government has promised to help Tanzania to promote economic development in four major areas, specifying those areas as transportation, agriculture, gas and oil sector and industry.
“The UK government is also in support of President Jakaya Kikwete’s Big Results Now (BRN) drive where a key component is fielding 35,000 new teachers. He said about 130 million pounds was being invested in agriculture.
On his part, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Lazaro Nyalandu assured the minister and Tanzanians as a whole that the government is set to curb increased poaching activities on elephants and is gaining greater successes since the government is cooperating with other nations to end the threat hanging over the species and tourism as a whole.
He told the media that the government had issued about 500 rifles of the type AK47 sub-machine guns for the use of guards in national parks, noting that more guns will be added to intensify security measures now being reinforced.
“We have recruited 400 new staff to beef up security and the security department has been bolstered to intensify the fight against poaching,” the minister affirmed.
Foreign Minister Bernard Membe said the aim of the visiting UK minister was to discuss current issues in the various spheres of cooperation between the two countries.
Stopping increased poaching activities and ivory trading was a top level subject in the UK minister’s discussions with government officials, while the UK also sought to find out what it could do to help consolidate peace and harmony in the Great Lakes region and among member states of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
President Kikwete recently issued a collective statement by African countries in an international conference to discuss dangers of animal extinction and poaching on elephant animal species.
Statistics from an animal census carried out in the eco-systems of the Selous-Mikumi reserve and national park showed that the elephant population in this ecosystem was reduced from 38,975 in 2009 to 13,084 at the start of this year, a loss of 66 per cent of elephants in the zone, the president had informed a shocked audience.