Tanzania seizes 706 elephant tusks

2013-11-04 12:03
(Noel Celis, AFP)

(Noel Celis, AFP)

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

Dar es Salaam - A Tanzanian minister under fire for a controversial suspended anti-poaching operation has praised police for their seizure of a huge haul of 706 elephant tusks.

"It means 353 elephants were killed to get all those tusks," Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Khamis Kagasheki told AFP, calling the seizure a "quite a big amount".

In the past two months, police and wildlife officers have cracked down on suspected poachers amid a surge of killings of elephant and rhino in the east African nation, in a campaign dubbed "Operation Tokomeza" or "Operation Terminate" which reportedly had a shoot-to-kill policy and allowed sweeping arrests.

But parliament on Friday suspended the campaign to allow investigation of reported seizure of property, torture and killing of suspects.

Kagasheki however defended the campaign, saying the seizure of such large amounts of ivory was a sign of its success.

"I admit that there is an ugly side in the operation, but what is happening now in arresting culprits and impounding tusks is part of the success of the operation," he said, refusing to step down over the conduct of the campaign.

Boom in poaching

Shortly after the campaign's launch Kagasheki was widely quoted in Tanzanian media as saying that "rangers are allowed to shoot to kill poachers".

Speaker of Parliament Anne Makinda told AFP Saturday the campaign had been suspended "indefinitely" and that a probe into its conduct would be launched this week.

Kagasheki said the ivory was seized on Saturday in Dar es Salaam from the house of three Chinese traders, who reportedly imported garlic from China and exported marine products from Tanzania.

He named the traders as Xu Fujie, Chen Jinzha and Huang Quin.

Kagasheki also praised police officers who reportedly turned down an $18 750 bribe to let them go free.

Poaching has risen sharply in Africa in recent years. Besides targeting rhinos, whole herds of elephants have been massacred for their ivory.

Tourism is a key foreign currency earner for Tanzania, especially wildlife safaris to its world-famous parks that include the Serengeti and Ngorongoro crater.

The lucrative Asian black market for rhino horn has driven a boom in poaching across Africa.

Asian consumers falsely believe the horns, which have the same composition as fingernails, have powerful healing properties.

Read more on:    tanzania  |  poaching  |  environment

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.

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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

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


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.


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.