Arusha, Tanzania (eTN) – Overwhelmed by an upsurge of game poaching, the Tanzania regime has announced to hire soldiers who undergo an extensive-two-years-military training under National Service (JKT) to boost anti-poaching-squads.
Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Shamsa Mwangunga says the incidence of poaching within the National Parks has assumed “alarming proportions,” making it necessary to involve military- combatants-to keep the deadly-crime in check.
“Sophisticated poaching syndicates and networks with international links are swelling and imposing a serious threat to our helpless-wild-animals,” Mwangunga said at the end of her six-day-tour in northern Tourist circuit comprises Serengeti, Manyara, Tarangire, Arusha and Kilimanjaro National Parks.
As soon as the new wildlife regulations are ready, Mwangunga said, Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) and anti-poaching units under the ministry’s wildlife division will be given a green light to employ the hundreds of national-service-military-groomed-soldiers.
”The rangers will undergo tailor made courses within the national parks to impart them with ethics of park rangers and anti-poaching squad,” Mwangunga said.
A number of national park rangers in different occasions, told the Minister who engaged in through talks with them that growing demand for cheap wild-animal-meat and booming live wild-animal-trade have fueled the biggest upsurge in poaching for a generation.
In northern parts of the country, gangs of poachers are routinely taking pot shots at game from cars parked at the roadside using high-powered-rifles.
The most recent shocking incident is the one where ten zebras en route to Pakistan niche markets were shot dead in a very close range by poachers in a cold-blood-killing at Oljoro wildlife holding farm, nearly 9km West-south of Arusha town.
Northern zone anti-poaching commander, Ally Lema, told the minister that recently the unit had successfully managed to nab 31 vehicles loaded with game meat and hides, but some of the poachers are still at large.
Another recent case, which is in the court of law, involves the former Tanzania Peoples` Defense Forces (TPDF) officer, Nathaniel Kiure, who was arrested with giraffe meat and hides.
Many observers fear that the threat of poaching could be worse in other parts of the southern part of the country, where enforcement efforts are not as sophisticated as in northern zone and where record-keeping is not as extensive.
The current threat is not on the same scale as in past decades. In the 1970s and 1980s, the world’s elephant population dropped by hundreds of thousands, with Tanzania and Kenya hit particularly hard, before a ban on the ivory trade was established in 1989. But still, analyst says the trend is worrying.