Millions of people across the globe know Tanzania primarily because it is blessed with species of fauna and flora found nowhere else in the world.
It is this rich diversity of wildlife that attracts to the country close to a million tourists every year, most dying to see the animals and plants in their natural habitat – while, in the process, the nation earns much-needed foreign exchange.
But an appreciable rise in the incidence of poaching has forced the government to devise more serious ways of stemming the alarmingly ugly tide.
Poachers are particularly attracted to elephant tusks and rhino horns, not to mention the hides and skins of the likes of cheetahs, giraffes and lions. Most of these have ready markets, particularly in the Far East.
Many in the Asian sub-continent believe the rhino horn has aphrodisiac qualities, while elephant tusks as well as lion and giraffe skins are hot cake as ornaments used in decorating homes, etc. As the market expands, so does poaching, and this because dealing in such trophies is lucrative business.
Figures illustrate the magnitude of the problem: Tanzania boasted some 350,000 elephants at independence in the early 1960s but the number had dwindled to a lowly 55,000 in 1989. However, thanks to an intensive anti-poaching crusade, the number had risen to 110,000 by 2010.
This alone shows that the problem of poaching wildlife can be significantly reduced if concerted efforts are taken by all concerned.
In this connection, we appreciate the support Britain’s Prince Charles pledged on the sidelines of the just-ended Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He said the UK would join hands with Tanzania in the war on poaching by controlling global markets.
We warmly welcome the pledge, and hope that he will stick to his word.
But this should not make our leaders, particularly those involved in the anti-poaching war, any the more complacent than they now are. Rather, they are under obligation to do what most they can do in ensuring the war on poaching is won once and for all. All of us should take the war as a do-or-die campaign to save our wildlife from needless danger or, indeed, from extinction. More....