By Isaac Mwangi
The shocking discovery of 706 tusks of ivory in Tanzania on 1 November was significant in more ways than one.
First, the seizure of the 1.9-tonne haul from the home of three Chinese traders underscored the need to make the fight against ivory smuggling an international affair, and to seek the Chinese government's intervention in the same way that China is known to take drug smuggling very seriously.
Second, following criticism of a shoot-to-kill campaign against poachers for which Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Khamis Kagasheki has been heavily criticized, the seizure served to blunt the accusations.
"I admit that there is an ugly side in the operation, but what is happening now in arresting culprits and impounding tusks is part of the success of the operation," he said as he declined to step down from office.
Critics say the campaign against poachers is being used to harass and intimidate innocent pastoralists, giving as it does a carte blanche for the police to kill at will. The issue of hunting also came to the fore, and that's a good thing.
As Tanzania fights poachers, this is an opportune time to also reconsider the matter of legalised hunting, which may also provide a cover for poachers.
Isn't it time this was disallowed in the country's laws completely or the least, ban hunting for say at least 20 years or more? But there is a more interesting debate that these recent events bring to the fore: the matter of the death penalty. Do poachers deserve death?
What about corrupt politicians and civil servants whose actions cannot be described as anything less than sabotage - do they deserve to live? More....