By Emmanuel Onyango
Following increased illegal poaching of elephants and rhinos in the country’s national parks, President Jakaya Kikwete has announced he will personally command the Tanzania People’s Defense Forces (TPDF) to help fight the vice.
A Statement issued by the Directorate of Communications at State House said in Dar es Salaam yesterday said that President Kikwete, who is commnder-in-chief of the armed forces, announced his intended move following rampant killings of the animals alongside wanton felling of trees for charcoal.
The president made the announcement at UN headquarter in New York city on Thursday this week when he met fellow world leaders at a meeting convened to discuss wildlife poaching and illegal businesses in wood planks across the world.
President Kikwete noted that Tanzania’s tourism was threatened with indiscriminate killings of the animal for their tusks whose lucrative business had expanded across the world. He said he would take further step to protect tourism – which contributes 17 percent to the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and currently employs over 300,000 people.
The State House statement sys Kikwete told the meeting which earlier had been organized by Gabon President Ali Omar Bongo in collaboration with the German government at the UN headquarters office in New York that in 1960 Tanzania had about 350,000 elephants, and that their numbers had dropped to 110,000 by 2009.
He also said the number of rhinos had gone down from some 700 animals in 1974 to a mere 100 now, mostly due to poaching. More....