Fresh call to ban hunting in Tanzania emerges
The opposition in Tanzanian parliament has demanded that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism cancel the hunting license of one company, which in a promotional video clip – played to member
The opposition in Tanzanian parliament has demanded that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism cancel the hunting license of one company, which in a promotional video clip – played to members of the sessional committee – is seen to violate several of the terms and conditions of their license.
“By shooting that video they shot themselves in the foot,” quipped a regular conservation source in Arusha who passed the information yesterday, after this latest scandal in Tanzania’s wildlife sector became known. The video reportedly contains incriminating scenes of vehicles chasing down animals; the use of automatic weapons fitted with silencers; and the shooting down of females, young cubs, and animals not listed in the hunting regulations. If found true, the offenders can be fined up to 10 million Tanzania shillings and could face jail terms between 6 months and 10 years.
The company in question was granted a hunting block in spite of having a non-functional website which was registered in the UAE, suggesting that not all was well with the allocation of hunting blocks last year, in the past a constant focus of allegations over corrupt practices.
While the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Lazarus Nyalandu gave a brief public statement, saying that the allegations were being investigated and that if any evidence of wrongdoing was found, the license would be withdrawn and the company and staff prosecuted, conservationists have jumped on the opportunity to once again denounce hunting as an unsustainable activity and demanded a total ban.
“We are aware of the falsehoods hunting companies peddle. They talk of a lot of benefit for the people of Tanzania but fact is that few benefits reach Tanzanians, and the bulk of the money remains with the hunting companies abroad. We applaud the action by the American Fish and Wildlife to ban the import of trophies from Tanzania into the US. When the minister two weeks ago announced he will cut elephant hunting permits by half, it was a good start. What this country needs, however, is a total ban on hunting of elephant, because our big herds have been decimated.
“The hunters always have a big mouth about how they prevent poaching, but like government itself, they have done nothing to prevent the mass slaughter of our elephant with tens of thousands killed over the past few years. Hunting in this day and age is immoral, and we will campaign to shame those still engaged in the bloody business. We shall name the corporate bosses who go for hunting and then hit their companies with boycott calls to shun their products. Like wearing fur coats became a no-go thing to do, we shall use the same approach to get hunting banned. Hunting and conservation are opposing forces and no amount of words can disguise the fact that it is not sustainable. It is time to tell the world that hunters are killers of wildlife, not protectors as they lied for too long,” ranted another regular source when debating the issue.
A US court upheld the ban on the import of trophies from Tanzania (and from Zimbabwe) after a suit filed by the hunting lobby was thrown out, and as a result it appears that demand for hunting trips to Tanzania (and Zimbabwe) are already slowing down, a sign that such a multi-pronged approach, banning trophy imports, and campaigning against hunting, can indeed produce results.
A leading safari operator then added his voice when he, on condition of anonymity, said: “Tanzania offers some of the best safari experiences in the world. It is a big asset, and we need to promote photographic safaris, not shooting safaris. I don’t want my name published, because I know how aggressive the hunters can be to confront those who oppose them in public. But I stand by my words that our future is in game watching safaris, not in hunting. If a ban on hunting can increase our visitor numbers, because of the good publicity such a ban would generate around the world, to even 10 percent more visitors, the revenue from hunting will pale against that and end the argument in our favor.”
It is clear that this issue will not be resolved anytime soon but the more violations by hunters and hunting companies are reported and documented and then prosecuted in court, the more the pressure will become to finally take a long overdue step of a total hunting ban in Tanzania.