By Oscar Nkala
The Tanzanian government says it is mobilising some army units for a new anti-poaching campaign which will also include unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to patrol Serengeti and other game reserves which hit by poaching.
Briefing parliamentarians, Natural Resources and Tourism minister Khamis Kagasheki said because most poachers have military and security backgrounds, President Jakaya Kikwete has authorised the quick deployment of several units of the Tanzanian People's Defence Force (TPDF) in all game reserves.
"The president has issued the order for deployment of the army. I have talked to the Minister of Defence and National Service [Shamsi Vuai Nahodha\ and we are in the final stages. But the government cannot fight the poaching war in isolation. We need to join hands as Tanzanians to fight poachers to preserve our natural resources. Let us build the habit of reporting anything we see as likely to endanger our elephants, rhinos and all other natural resources," he said.
Tanzania National Parks (TNP) spokesman Pascal Shelutete said with the help of the army, the parks authority will use UAVs to track movement in and out of the parks area. "It…will facilitate monitoring all parks 24 hours," Shelutete told US-based Sabahi Online.
Last week tour operators in the country said the problem of poaching will not be easy to deal with because soldiers, game wardens, police officers and customs officials are all complicit in decimating the country's elephant population, now estimated to between 40 000 and 70 000. In January this year, parks intelligence officers operating in the Lake Manyara National Park and Tarangire National Parks arrested a Staff Sergeant in the TPDF as he tried to transport elephant tusk from Manyara National Park to the city of Arusha.
"For elephants to be shot at the magnitude they are being shot at, being able to have the ivory transferred from game reserves to port, being shipped to the Far East - it's not the guy at the village level that has the capability. It goes all the way to Customs, the Tanzania Revenue Authority and the Ports Authority. It needs influence and influential people. More....