Saturday, June 21, 2014

Tanzania Obtains R44 Helicopter to Counter Poaching

An R44 helicopter

The Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism recently received a delivery of an R44 helicopter from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation in an effort to combat poaching that is increasing in the country's game reserves. This donation came in the midst of a complaint by the government of Tanzania and international conservation groups last month warning that the country's elephant population could become extinct within the next seven years unless crucial action is taken to halt organized syndicates behind the ongoing crisis. The helicopter was given to the Tanzanian government on June 14 by Mark Childress, U.S Ambassador to Tanzania, on behalf of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. While speaking at the handover ceremony in Dar es Salaam, he assured that the United States will continue to help Tanzania to battle poaching in all of its national parks. According to Lazaro Nyalandu, Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, the government values United States' support in Tanzania's anti-poaching efforts and stated that the helicopter will be launched soon to carry out aerial surveillance over the Selous Game Reserve. He further added that the government plans to obtain two more helicopters - a Bell 206 and another R44 - to bolster the aerial fleet used by game wardens to find and track down poachers in Tanzania's eastern and coastal areas, including the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. In addition, the government has enlisted 450 out of the targeted 900 game rangers this year so far. Furthermore, 25 new AK-47 rifles have been obtained in order to train game ranger trainees at the Pasiansi Wildlife Training Institute. It has been said that the Howard G. Buffett Foundation financed the training of four pilots who will operate the helicopters, and is also acquiring vehicles and communication equipment for game rangers. The foundation will even pay salaries for the pilots and meet the operational costs for the R44 helicopter.
Conservationist and philanthropist Howard G. Buffett

It is amazing and beneficial to see what the United States is doing, in order to help Tanzania in an effort to combat the threat of poaching that is affecting not just the country's wildlife, but also its tourism industry and socio-economic development. The Howard G. Buffett Foundation has played a key role in providing significant support to Tanzania through the donation of equipment crucial for the battle against poaching. One of these donations has been an R44 helicopter, which would help scout various national parks and other protected areas for poaching activities. In addition, the foundation also plans to donate two more helicopters along with vehicles and communication equipment for game rangers. The origin of this collaboration between Tanzania and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation goes back to April this year when Howard G. Buffett visited the country and promised to halt the poaching of elephants and rhinos during a meeting with President Jakaya Kikwete. In that same month, the rampant poaching of Africa's elephants prompted the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service to ban importing of all hunting trophies from Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Figures indicate indicate that Tanzania's elephant population in Mikumi National Park and Selous Game Reserve decreased from 38,975 in 2009 to roughly 13,084 today. In addition, the population in Ruaha National Park and Rungwa Game Reserve declined from 35,461 in 2006 to 20,090 today. International conservation groups indicate that Kenya and Tanzania account for almost seventy percent of elephants slaughtered in the last ten years.
Elephants in Selous Game Reserve

With the Howard G. Foundation providing donations to Tanzania, it appears that the future for elephants, rhinos, and other animals might be promising. The foundation had also earlier donated R225 million to be used in improvising anti-poaching operations in South Africa's Kruger National Park over the next three years. This indicates that the Howard G. Foundation is very conscious about Africa's poaching epidemic and has been helping local governments in countries like South Africa and Tanzania where poaching is rife. However, some countries in Central and West Africa also happen to be major hotspots of rampant poaching that has taken its toll on the elephant population and has completely wiped out the regions' rhino population. Furthermore, like their eastern and southern African counterparts, these countries rely on tourism for socio-economic development. As poaching continues to claim lives of elephants and other animals in Central and West Africa, the tourism industry of these regions would decline and affect their socio-economic development. This is why it is crucial that the Howard G. Foundation should look into the issues concerning poaching in Central and West Africa and see how it could help the countries in those regions to combat poaching in an effort to revive their individual tourism industries and socio-economic developments.

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