TANZANIA has been advised to make amendments to the Wildlife Conservation Act of 2009 in order to provide hard-hitting penalties for poachers and traders of elephant tusks.
The upshot is to rescue the jumbos from extinction. The population of elephants in Tanzania is declining at a fast pace after improvement which was brought on following a joint-operation by security forces against poachers.
The initiative, code-named "Operation Uhai " that was conducted in 1989. "The amendment of the law is necessary to ensure that penalties for killing elephants and trading in ivory serve as deterrent measures," World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Country Director Bell'Aube Houinato has proposed.
Mr Houinato says: "If this slaughter is allowed to persist Tanzania risks losing the entire population of elephants and eventually undermine its reputation as the beacon of conservation in Africa.
" According to the conservationist, elephants make one out of five attractions that tourists visiting national and game parks would want to watch. "Tarangire, Ruaha and Mikumi National Parks and the Selous Game Reserve are amongst areas that are famous for big herds of elephants but these are now threatened due to escalating poaching and trade of tusks fuelled by demand in Far East nations," the WWF country chief noted.
Since the year 2009, Tanzania has been implicated as part of the trade route for over 38 tonnes of ivory that was seized in 16 large-scale seizure cases globally. "Of the 16 global cases, only three seizures were made by authorities in Tanzania.
The remaining 13 seizures were made in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam among others but all the tusks originated from Tanzania. "We must also improve law enforcement for wildlife trade crime in Tanzania knowing that at least four out of five contraband ivory shipments successfully leave Tanzania without detection," Mr Houinato said.
The official noted with concern that there is little evidence to suggest that the people behind the massive movements of illegal ivory trade have been arrested and successfully prosecuted. He went on note that his organization had proposed to the government of Tanzania to conduct a pilot project on smart planes (drones) under which aerial surveys will be applied for the purposes of surveillance and anti-poaching support.
WWF is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States.
It is the largest independent conservation organization in the world with over five million supporters worldwide, working in more than 100 countries, supporting around 1,300 conservation and environmental projects.