Major upsurge in Tanzania elephant poaching, says official

Elephants forage in Tanzania's Serengeti national reserve on October 25, 2010
Elephants forage in Tanzania's Serengeti national reserve on October 25, 2010

Tanzania has been hit by a sharp upsurge in poaching, with at least 60 elephants killed in the two months since the government was forced to halt a controversial crackdown, a senior official said.

This month Tanzania's President Jakaya Kikwete sacked four top ministers amid accusations that the anti-poaching drive—codenamed 'Operation Tokomeza', or 'Operation Terminate'—had led to security forces carrying out a wave of killings as well as torture and rape.

But Deputy Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Lazaro Nyalandu signalled that the draconian operation, in force during October, had at least resulted in a drop in poaching.

"During the entire period of the operation only two were reportedly killed, while 60 were butchered between November 1 and December 28," the deputy minister said late Sunday.

He said the east African nation, home to the world famous Serengeti national park, would now approach foreign governments and institutions for help on how to proceed.

"Those to be approached include the European Union and Asian countries. Asian countries are reportedly main consumers of elephant tusks and by-products," Nyalandu said, adding that Tanzania's wildlife department and ranger service needed to be strengthened.

The anti-poaching operation saw the security forces operating under a shoot-to-kill policy and making sweeping arrests.

Police officers unpack pieces of smuggled elephant tusks from among a shipment of anchovies in Zanzibar on August 23, 2011
Police officers unpack pieces of smuggled elephant tusks from among a shipment of anchovies in Zanzibar on August 23, 2011

Poaching has risen sharply in Africa in recent years. Besides targeting rhinos, whole herds of elephants have been massacred for their ivory—threatening the tourism sector, a key foreign currency earner for Tanzania.

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Dec 30, 2013
Do not worry, good friend. Sooooon ALL the animals desired by poachers and their overseas customers will be gone, and the criminals will go into other occupations, like loan sharking, prostitution, crooked contracting, child labor......or they will be shown to be Muslim and start predating on humans...or maybe they will just leave. Only a fool desecrates his own nation, so these poachers are likely foreigners desecrating Tanzania, corrupting officials and buying influence so that the government was 'forced' to leave them be an 'poach in peace and security'

Jan 03, 2014
They might as well pretty much go out and capture every one of the remaining rhinos and elephants ASAP. It's quite clear that as things are now it is not going to be long till both are totally extinct in the wild and having a healthy and diverse gene pool will be essential for keeping them in captivity and then someday when things change we re-introduce them to their native habitats.(by we I mean the human race in general. we might see the extinct in the wild part in our lifetimes but the recovery part not so much, it will take time. it will be a task left to some future generation.

Jan 03, 2014
The do-gooders are out in force now, protesting for the rights of armed criminal poacher gangs to capture and kill elephants (and rhinos) to fuel their own greed.

It doesn't make sense.

Perhaps. I think it's more they are protesting what is considered by them overreach and abuse of power by corrupt government workers. I would not immediately dismiss the claims of corruption and abuse of power by some government officials in the operation. it would not surprise me at all if the operation was abused by some corrupt official/s. however, I still strongly feel they shouldn't throw out the baby with the bathwater here and look into it and figure out what happened and what went wrong and how to fix it and prevent it from going bad again.

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