25 February 2019

Tanzania: Editorial - Anti-Poaching Drive On Track

The revelation that the Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (Tawa) - operating in collaboration with a national task force - busted a poaching network is music to our ears.

About 30 alleged poachers were detained a few days after the court sentenced Yang Fenglan - a Chinese businesswoman nicknamed the "Ivory Queen" for illegal trafficking in ivory - to 15 years imprisonment, a hefty fine and confiscation of her property in Tanzania. This is a quantum leap - if only because most similar arrests in the past tended to involve minor players.

Speaking in Arusha, the Tawa deputy commissioner for Conservation and Patrol Unit, Mr Mabula Misungwi, said they have made great strides in the war against poaching by breaking a notorious ring. Kudos for good progress in combating poaching, an illegality that threatens some wildlife species.

However, poaching cartels have not been wiped out altogether, so Tawa should not bask in the glory of this success; they should instead intensify the fight.

Also, the authorities must build on such success by bolstering community outreach programmes through (say) the use of interactive drama to explore poaching, conservation and conflict issues.

These initiatives speak directly to the people who are most vulnerable to grooming by poaching cartels.


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