Monday, August 13, 2012

Wildlife Trophies Worth 213 Million Shillings Seized in Tanzania

Elephants in the Selous Game Reserve

It has been recently reported that a Special Joint Task Force organized by Tanzania's Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism has seized 213 million shillings worth of wildlife trophies in a special operation to combat poaching and illegal logging in the nation's Liwale district. The contraband seized included eighty rhino horns, fourteen elephant tusks, one elephant hair bracelet, two lion skins, and one leopard skin. The operation, which was established on July 22, has also seized eighty firearms, 685 rounds of ammunition, and 295 shell castings. Among the firearms seized included one semi-automatic rifle, sixteen rifles, and 63 shotguns. In addition to the trophies and firearms, the team also seized a Toyota Corolla with registration number T 836 ADV, two motorcycles, two saws, and fourteen pieces of timber.  The task force was a combination of different ministries such as the National and Trans-national Serious Crime Investigation Unit (National Task Force), which consists of members from the Police Force, Tanzania People's Defence Forces (TPDF), Tanzania Intelligence and Security Services (TISS), Prisons Department, Immigration Department, and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP). Its leader, Deputy Commissioner of Police Simon Kassala, credited the team's success to the public's cooperation in providing them with tip-offs and information on people carrying out illegal poaching and logging. Liwale District Commissioner Ephraim Mbaga saw that the district's atmosphere changed after the task force began its work. According to the Minister of Home Affairs, Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki, up to 101 suspects have been captured and brought to the court of law.  He further added that the team used scientific intelligence gathering techniques that helped them nab the culprits. He also said that the recent raid in Liwale district will be the best example for similar operations to be carried out in Tanzania. The minister indicated that criminals in the Selous Game Reserve had become infamous for poaching and illegal logging in the nation. He expressed his optimism, saying that with current results from the task force such illicit activities will be put under control.

I'm very happy and proud to see that Tanzania has established a joint task force consisting of a variety of different authorities in an effort to combat illegal poaching and logging. But what really amazes me is that the public helped out the team by tipping them off about the alleged perpetrators, and their dirty work in the district. I believe that what has happened in Tanzania's Liwale district is an ideal example of what the public elsewhere in Tanzania, other countries of Africa, and around the world should do in order to help put a stop to poaching and other crimes related to wildlife and the environment. In addition to that, each and every country in a particular continent should review its laws in order to better enhance its penalties against such crimes. This issue is pointed out by Ambassador Kagasheki, who stated that despite the results from the raid, the alleged culprits got away after paying a fine of 200,000 shillings. This could mean that they will have a chance to conduct their lewd and illicit activities before their arrests. This could also explain why Tanzania has recently been named in one report as a country that loses thirty elephants daily. For this reason, it is absolutely crucial that Tanzania and other countries around the world should take intense measures in fighting poaching, the illegal wildlife trade, and other environmental crimes.

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