Apolinari Tairo, eTurboNews

April 10, 2018

Looking to protect wildlife and forests from poachers, the Tanzania

government plans to change from civilian to paramilitary strategies in

wildlife protection, aiming to equip rangers with better skills in

combating poaching of wildlife and forests.

The special training to involve key personnel in the Ministry of Natural

Resources and Tourism, will transform mode of operation for wildlife and

forest institutions into paramilitary units to reinforce the anti-poaching


Anti-poaching training to compose military intelligence strategic plans

will target protection of wildlife, mostly elephants and rhinos living in

protected areas and those roaming freely in areas outside wildlife parks

and game reserves and forests.

Protection of tourism resources through paramilitary tactics will also

touch historical sites conserved for tourism development in Tanzania.

The Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Authority (NCAA), and Wildlife Division of the Ministry of Natural

Resources and Tourism are key government-controlled wildlife protecting

units which have been equipped with the training.

TANAPA controls 16 national parks, NCAA operates independently as a

conservation authority for the Ngorongoro Area which is comprised of the

Maasai cattle herders, wildlife inside and outside the Ngorongoro Crater,

and the Olduvai and Laetoli pre-historical sites.

The Wildlife Division controls 38 game reserves and open areas inhabited by

wild animals within the boundaries of Tanzania.

Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Mr. Japhet Hasunga said

over 100 civilian staff members in the Ministry of Natural Resources were

trained on paramilitary last month.

Mr. Hasunga said the new approach would equip the staff under his docket

with skills to protect wildlife, forests, and historical sites threatened

by poachers and vagabonds.

The conservation staff members include managers from key departments who

have completed an intensive paramilitary training recently in the Katavi

region in western Tanzania and where poaching of elephants has been

frequently reported involving Burundian poachers.

Introduction of paramilitary training for wildlife rangers and managers was

necessitated by changes which poachers have been applying through high-tech

communications and the application of military equipment to kill elephants

and other endangered species.

?The paramilitary training encompasses a wide range of skills such as

wildlife and forest conservation skills, proper use of weapons to curb

poaching incidents as well as leadership and ethics,? the Deputy Minister


Infiltration to Tanzania of military weapons, mostly high-caliber guns from

war-torn countries that neighbor to the Western Tanzanian regions of

Katavi, Rukwa, and Kigoma has been a noted factor for rampant killing of

African elephants in those areas.

The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr. Hamis Kigwangala, said

earlier that the Tanzanian government, through his ministry, has been

planning to introduce paramilitary training in key units charged with

wildlife protection.

Poaching is an increasingly serious threat to wildlife in Tanzania, in

particular the poaching of elephants for ivory. Controlling this problem

has proven difficult due to a number of factors including the sheer size of

national parks and lack of clear boundaries, as well as limited manpower

and equipment to monitor and manage activities within wildlife-conserved


The latest aerial wildlife census has determined that elephant numbers in

Tanzania has declined from over 120,000 in the early 2000s to about 50,000

just 2 years ago.

More than 17,797 kilograms of illegally-exported Tanzanian ivory (4,692

elephant tusks) were seized at overseas ports during the same period.

There were 350,000 elephants in Tanzania when this African destination

gained its independence from Britain in 1961, but the wave of intense

poaching between 1970 and 1987 has left only 55,000 jumbos alive.

A recent census of the Selous-Mikumi ecosystem, one of the country?s

biggest wildlife sanctuaries, revealed the elephant population had gone

down to just 13,084, from 38,975 in 2009, representing a 66 percent decline.

A recent wildlife conservation study by the Tanzania Wildlife Research

Institute (TAWIRI) has indicated a decline in elephant poaching. The study

attributed the decline in poaching in Tanzania as a result of the

application of paramilitary strategies involving wildlife officers.

Research undertaken by scientists from WWF, the University of Vermont, and

the University of Cambridge said there are economic losses that the current

elephant poaching surge is inflicting on nature-based tourism economies in


The research shows that tourism revenue lost to the current poaching crisis

exceeds the anti-poaching costs necessary to stop the decline of elephants

in Eastern, Southern, and Western Africa.



This news service is provided by Save the Elephants.