Tanzania declares Elephant Day to curb illegal ivory trade

posted in: Africa

Khamis Suedi Kagasheki, Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism – Photo: mwanaharakatimzalendo


Dar es Salaam, Tanzania – Tanzania has officially designated 22 Aug. as its Elephant Day to be observed annually to raise public awareness on the need for the giant mammal’s survival, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism has said.

“The national Elephant Day will provide a forum for all Tanzanians and wildlife conservation stakeholders to share ideas, shape public opinion and policies on how best to protect the elephant population in the country,” said Prof. Amos Majule, Director of the Institute of Resource Assessment of the University of Dar es Salaam.

The Institute is collaborating with the ministry in addressing threats posed by human beings, especially poachers and destroyers of the environment in which Tanzania’s elephant herd has survived for centuries.

“The elephant is an important source of national revenue through tourism because many travellers pay large sums of money to see and photograph the tuskers in the wild or hunt them for sport,” said Majule.

Tanzania is home to Africa’s second largest elephant herd after Botswana. Their population, however, has been dwindling in recent years due to illegal hunting for the tusks that have a notoriously big market in the Far East, particularly China and Thailand, despite the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) ban on ivory trade.

“Elephants in Africa play an important role in the Savanna and forest ecosystems as they contribute to maintaining suitable habitat for a myriad of other species,” Majule noted.

Meanwhile, the East African Legislative Assembly currently in session in Arusha, Tanzania, has passed a resolution halting the slaughter of elephants and ivory trafficking.

The resolution urges the East African Community (EAC) partner States – Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda — to categorise elephant poaching and ivory trafficking as an economic crime and a national and regional crisis.

Moving the motion, a member of the Assembly, Abubakr Ogle, noted that enforcement of legislation on wildlife protection had been inadequate to deal with emerging threats from increased criminal cartels.

Emphasising the role that the EAC region has to play in halting the trade in ivory, Ogle said: “No African range is immune to the ongoing killings of elephants to feed the ivory demand in the Far East. A workable solution to the crisis is needed.”

The legislators welcomed the creation of the International Consortium for Combating Wildlife Crime involving the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Interpol and the World Bank, among others, and noted the importance of realising the set targets.

Various speakers in the Assembly said it was important for EAC partner States to cooperate in identifying wildlife crime hotspots, conduct coordinated investigations and undertake a joint crackdown on corruption practices that abet poaching of elephants for ivory.

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