Dar es Salaam. Twenty-five giraffe were killed by poachers in Loliondo District in the past two years, a special committee that investigated reports of killings of the animal has found.
The committee, which was formed by Arusha Regional Commissioner Mrisho Gambo, discovered huge statistical differences between the anti-poaching unit (KDU) in Arusha Zone and Loliondo District’s game officer on the number of giraffe killed during the period.
While the KDU report, which was presented before Gambo’s committee, showed only two giraffe were killed in Loliondo District, that of the district’s game officer showed six giraffe were killed during the same period.
“The team I formed discovered that 25 giraffe were killed by poachers in the past two years. In 2017, one giraffe was killed and last year alone 24 giraffe were killed. This is an average of two giraffe each month,” said Mr Gambo.
Reports of increasing poaching of giraffe in Loliondo District has led to the suspension of the head of anti-poaching unit in Arusha Zone, Mr Said Hassan Mnkeni. This happened a few days after the committee informed Tourism minister of their finding.
“Another thing that raised suspicion is when we discovered that there were 27 poaching case files in various courts in Arusha but the strange thing is that all these were still being mentioned, some for years,” said Mr Gambo.
He said statements of the accused in all the cases were taken by game officers instead of a police officer as the law directs.
Acting Arusha Police commander told The Citizen that they were holding 25 suspects named in the report of the special committee as having been involved in the crime or main financiers of poaching of giraffe.
“A team of detectives is looking for other suspects who are hiding in Tanzania and a neighbouring country,” he said.
The committee has recommended that the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and Home Affairs minister take disciplinary action against Loliondo District Commanding Officer for not cooperating with the RC committee, failure to supervise junior officers at Namanga and Longido suspected of leaking information to poachers.
The committee also want that head of anti-poaching unit in Arusha Zone and Loliondo District Game Officer be taken to task for giving out conflicting reports on giraffe poaching.
The chairman of the committee, Mr Hargeney Chitururo, said the main problem they discovered was lack of proper communication system among various government institutions, district authorities, anti-poaching unit and the Tanzania Wildlife Authority (Tawa).
“We advise that institutions under the Tourism ministry, Regional Administration and Local Government authority and the police should have a proper and good system of sharing information in fighting poaching in Loliondo.
The committee said also that investors who have been allocated hunting blocks in the area should strictly monitor the situation so that they can attain their contractual obligations including contributing to community development, financing anti- poaching patrols and conservation of the environment.