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WWF, Tanzanian NGOs join hands
in fight against illegal wildlife trade

ARUSHA, Tanzania (Xinhua) -- World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), an international wildlife watchdog, has partnered with Tanzania’s local non-governmental organizations in a campaign against illegal wildlife trade, a WWF official said on Tuesday.

The campaign dubbed “illegal wildlife trade campaign” is expected to involve local communities to fight against barbaric killings of innocent wild animals, which is at an alarming rate.

WWF Tanzania’s conservation manager Gerald Kamwenda said in Arusha that the fight against poaching needs collective efforts amongst stakeholders.

“NGOs are among of them and we believe they will play a big role in this fight because they work with communities at the grassroots levels,” he said, adding that more than 60 grassroots NGOs are to take part in the war.

“That is why we came up with this new approach of involving NGOs, which are operating at the grassroots levels, where people live. It is our hope that a number of issues will come out through this campaign as there are more issues, which are not yet known,” the WWF official said when commenting on why poaching is still rampant in Tanzania despite several interventions.

During this year’s Bangkok summit of the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Tanzania and Kenya were named as among the top eight nations which are at the heart of an unprecedented surge in African elephant killing.

“We have changed the approach. In this new campaign we want to engage more local people especially those who are close to game reserves and national parks,” said Zuberi Mwachula, the national chairman of Mazingira Network Tanzania (MANET), an umbrella organization for environmental NGOs.

According to Mwachula, a countrywide campaign is to involve nearly 70 grassroot NGOs and intends to empower local communities with skills and knowledge on the importance of wildlife and how they can take part in the fight against poaching.

He explained that before getting into the serious campaign, NGOs will also be trained on how they can take part in the campaign.

So far, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) has dished-out 1.2 billion Tanzanian shillings (750,000 U.S. dollars), which is to be channeled to NGOs for lobby and advocacy.

“As stakeholders, we’re shocked with what we hear that in a day three elephants are killed in our game reserves and parks. We can fight until the last minute,” Josiah Severre, an environmental activist said.

Poaching has a very negative impact to the country’s tourism industry as tourists do visit Tanzania because of wildlife, he said, “If this trend left unchecked it will increase poverty in the country, taking into account that the tourism sector employs many people.”

MANET’s executive secretary Frank Luvanda said the campaign will involve a number of people including those from the government.

“In some areas, we’ll also work with government officials who are commissioned to take care of wildlife, by giving them some of working facilities so that they perform their duties,” he said.


Tanzania’s anti-poaching
campaign takes new twist

ARUSHA (Xinhua) -- The fight against senseless killing of Tanzania’s wildlife has moved a notch higher, after hundreds of people from within and outside Arusha participate in the anti-poaching walking campaign from the northern safari capital to Dar es Salaam.

Anti-poaching campaigners are expected to cover over 800 km and they are to spend 23 days to reach Tanzania’s commercial city of Dar es Salaam.

Founder of the important event Pratik Patel, who is the executive director of African Wildlife Trust, said while on the way, campaigners will be creating awareness on the dangers posed by poachers to the public.

He said they are expected to reach Dar es Salaam on Sept. 15 and will be received by the Natural Resources and Tourism, Minister, Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki.

“We’ll be walking 35 km every day, until they reach their final destination,” Patel said.

Patel started his campaign by sensitizing people through Facebook, whereby many people responded positively to the campaign and pledged to take part.

Among them include one American from California, Maraya Cornel who joined the team on Saturday. Acting head of the Northern Zone’s Anti-Poaching Unit, Michael Melakiti, said between July 2012 and 2013, his unit managed to arrest 64 suspects of wildlife poaching, whereby 51 were fined of about 7,500 U.S. dollars.

On elephant poaching, Melakiti said about 29 jumbos killed in Loliondo, Rombo, Monduli, Longido and Simanjiro districts. “We are still investigating the matter,” Patel said.

Tourism Officer of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), Stephen Lelo, said the campaign will intensify the fight against poaching which is on the rise.

“This is another important tool towards scaling down poaching as it gives opportunity for ordinary people to take part in the fight,” he said, adding “we need to step up and protect our elephants; wildlife is tourism, if we don’t protect them, tourism sector is likely to die.”

Northern zone official, from the ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Doroth Masawe, said tourism contributes 17 percent of the country’s economy and employs large number of people, hence the need to protect the wildlife sector.

“Tourism is economy, and if we completely kill all animals there will be no tourism. It is high time for the public to take part in this fight.”

Launching the walk, Arusha Regional Commissioner, Magesa Mulongo, called upon Tanzanians to join hands with those who are campaigning against illegal poaching to save the country’s remaining wildlife.

He used the platform to warn officials who are colluding with poachers, saying their days are numbered.



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