Tanzania president John Magufuli ordered Saturday for stringent legal action against suspected wildlife poachers and illegal ivory trade cartels as nations struggles to conserve its fauna.
The call comes after the Tanzania’s ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism under its Anti-poaching task force seized 50 elephant tusks from racketeers between Friday and Saturday in the capital Dar es Salaam.
Magufuli made an impromptu visit to the ministry to assess the situation.
He assured the ministry and its task force “of my support and encourage you to continue working hard. Make sure you arrest everyone who is involved in this illegal practice regardless of his title, position, religion or his/her age,”.
“We must reach the point where people flee when they meet elephants instead of killing them. We must protect these animals, which are being brutally killed. Let the law take its course,” he added.
Magufuli feared that 50 tusks means 25 elephants have been gunned down and that the government will not tolerate such atrocities.
“You have seized 50 elephant tusks, this means 25 elephants have been killed, we cannot allow this to continue. A few people are doing this for their own interests,” he said.
The Tanzania Anti-poaching task force was formed by the tourism ministry to fight the skyrocketing assault on wildlife in the county
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Tanzania’s largest nature reserve was in the 1970s home to 110,000 elephants, but today only 15,000 remain and they are threatened by “industrial-scale poaching”.
In June, Tanzania emerged at the epicentre of Africa’s elephant poaching crisis after the government census revealed it had lost 60 per cent of its elephants in just five years.
Tanzania’s elephant population is one of the continent’s largest. But data released by government last year showed that between 2009 and 2014 the number dropped from 109,051 to 43,330.