Former president Mr Benjamin Mkapa yesterday called on the international community to support Tanzania in its war against poaching.
He said that the intervention would help to end the problem. Mr Mkapa was speaking after a five-kilometre charity walk dubbed as a ‘Walk for Elephants’ that was organised by Tanzania China Friendship Promotion Association, some Chinese Companies and wildlife protection organisations. Hundreds of Tanzanians, development partners, diplomats and religious leaders turned out to support the movement.
The charity walk aimed at raising public awareness against the poaching of elephants for their tusks. The former head of state, who doubles as Vice-Chairman of the board of Africa Wildlife Foundation (AWF), asked other countries to imitate the Chinese government’s recent ban on ivory trade in China.
He said the move will strongly help to end poaching activities in Africa. “We have the will to protect and preserve, but the resources are obviously limited. We are described as a developing nation. Our needs are numerous but resources are few,” said Mr Mkapa.
He added that to support the war against poaching, various governments across the world must ban the importation and uses of tusks so that poachers and greedy traders could stop killing animals. “We need to work together to stop this, our fellows must ban the importation and uses of elephant tusks, this means there will be no market for tusks and nobody will kill elephants,” he said.
He also asked the international organisations to support the war since the African heritage is for everybody in the world. According to Mr Mkapa, elephants are in the list of top five species that are in danger of being attacked and killed in the world.
The list also includes rhinos and other animals. Mr Mkapa called the international community to protect animals for the betterment of the current and future generations. Earlier, the ambassador
of China to Tanzania, Mr Lu Youqing, said his government is in the frontline in the protection of wildlife species. He said China has been working with the government of Tanzania to ensure safety and protection of wild animals.
“As the signatory of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the government of China always complies with the convention and highly values wildlife protection,” said the ambassador.
According to him, since 2014 State Forestry Administration and the Customs General Administration of China have crushed about 6.8 tonnes of confiscated ivory. He added that the recent Chinese ban on ivory trade demonstrates how China is determined to protect Africa’s wildlife, elephants included.
Mr Youqing said Tanzania and China have been working on a number of projects intended to create awareness and have raised their voices against animal killing and illegal wildlife products business.
“The Embassy is willing to continue providing support and help Tanzania within ability share the successful experience of endangered species conservation like the Giant Panda,” he promised.
The Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Maj. Gen. Gaudence Milanzi, applauded China’s move to ban the ivory trade and the cooperation China has been offering to Tanzania in protecting wildlife and nature at large.
Citing dinosaurs’ disappearance, the PS cautioned that if immediate measures in protecting elephants and other threatened animals will not be taken, there is a danger for the elephants to disappear as well.
However, the PS said under the Fifth Phase Government there is no single stone that will be left unturned in the war against poachers. On December 30, last year, China announced that it will gradually stop the processing and sales of ivory for commercial purposes before the end of 2017.
The decision by China government was welcomed and applauded by both national and international organisations who described the move as a historic milestone in protecting elephants and other wildlife animals.
It is estimated that in every 15 minutes an elephant is killed somewhere. African elephants are disappearing at 8 per cent per year faster than they are being born. In Tanzania, according to data released by the government in June 2015, between 2009 and 2014, elephant population had dropped from 109,051 to 43,521 respectively.