'30 elephants killed every day in Tanzania'

2014-05-09 14:40
(File,AFP)

(File,AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Dar es Salaam - Poachers are slaughtering Tanzania's elephants for their ivory at such alarming rates that the population could be completely wiped out in just seven years, conservationists told a conference on Friday.

The two-day UN-backed conference which opened on Friday aims to come up with strategies to stem worsening elephant poaching in Tanzania, a top safari destination determined to protect its prized wildlife assets but struggling to deal with increasingly sophisticated organised crime gangs.

"Approximately 30 elephants a day are killed, at this rate the population will be exterminated by 2020", the Tanzanian elephant protection society (TEPS), an independent conservation group, said.

Tanzanian Vice President Mohamed Gharib Bilal opened the summit by asking for international assistance in battling the increasingly well-organised and equipped poaching gangs.

"Organised and intricate poaching networks in and outside the country sustain this illegal trade, thus making it difficult for Tanzania alone to win this battle", Bilal said, painting a bleak picture of the situation.

Tanzanian police launched late last year a crackdown on suspected poachers amid a spate of killings of elephant and rhino, operating under what was reported to be a shoot-to-kill policy and making sweeping arrests.

While poaching rates dropped drastically, the operation was shut down because of allegations of harassment, rape and murder of suspected poachers.

But TEPS director Alfred Kikoti said he wanted the military to resume its role battling poachers.

"They have to stay in there, protecting our elephants", he said. "They can't just be in there for one operation and then pull out. It needs to be a longer term commitment."

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.

Organised gangs with insider knowledge and armed with automatic weapons and specialised equipment such as night vision goggles, use chainsaws to carve out the rhino horn or remove elephant tusks.

Millions of dollars of elephant tusks and rhino horns are smuggled out of East Africa each year, according to United Nations experts, with demand fuelled by an increasingly affluent Chinese middle class.

In 2006, the elephant population of Tanzania's vast Selous-Mikumi ecosystems, once hosting one of the largest elephant populations in the world, numbered 70 000, Bilal said.

Last year, there were only 13 000 elephants there.

Tourism, some 90% of which is wildlife based, accounts for 17% of Tanzania's gross domestic product and employs over 300 000 people, according to official statistics.
Read more on:    un  |  tanzania  |  poaching  |  conservation  |  animals

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.