Economic empowerment could be one of the ways to minimise the acts of illegal ivory trade which is practiced rampantly in many areas in the country.
Speaking here when explaining development and challenges of tourism, an environmentalist identified as James Ngalula, said the government has done little in supporting residents living near some of the country’s game reserves, and as a result they have chosen to engage in illegal ivory trade.
He said the illegal trade has been conducted in various game reserves because the government does not provide enough support to the people.
“I have been at some villages close to Selous Game reserve, where most of the residents do not have enough water, health facilities or schools.
He noted that lack of economic activities has forced people to engage in illegal ivory trade with some agents.
“If the government wants to reduce such acts, it should introduce income generating activities that would support many people,” he said.
He said elephant poaching has not only been on the increase, but threatens Tanzania’s economy by undermining tourism.
Ngalula also urged the government to take stern measures against poaching saying:
“If the government will delay to take stern measures to alleviate elephant poaching, it might tarnish the country’s image,” he added.
A quick investigation done by this paper has revealed that over 85 percent of cases at various courts in Rufiji District involve government trophies.
Juma Seleman, who resides in the district, said there have been delays in ruling on the cases involving suspects found with illegal possession of trophies. He added that the delays give loopholes to the perpetrators of the trade to continue with the business.
In some cases, he said hearings have been going on for over five years, hence resulting in increased costs, time and discouraging efforts by volunteers to curb wildlife poaching.
Another resident, Abasi Kigwasi, urged the court to met heavy punishment to those proved to be dealers in illegal trophies.
He said the fine current being charged is too minimal, hence attracting more people to engage in the malpractice.
Kigwasi also called on the establishment of a special court to deal with people engaging in unlawful killing of wild animals.