Natural Resources and Tourism ministry has seized trophies worth 212m/- in a 17-day countrywide crackdown carried out in collaboration with the national and transnational serious crime investigation unit- between July 22 to date.
The special operation, involving top officials from different security organs including the Tanzania People’s Defence Force, police, intelligence unit, immigration and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) aims at eliminating poaching in various places in the country.
Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki said in a press statement yesterday that they have started with Lindi and Liwale district before moving to other regions.
The minister named the seized trophies as animal skins, elephant tusks, monkey tails, buffalo horns and several others.
He said poachers had left behind a vehicle with registration numbers T 836 ADV, two motorcycles registered T 901 BXQ and T 772 BSD and 149 pieces of timber.
He said the operation which was conducted in 27 villages bordering Selous National Game Reserve was successful because it was also supported by the villagers.
“Security officers managed to seize 80 different weapons including 674 bullets and 289 magazines,” said the minister.
He said some weapon owners surrendered them to Liwale police station while waiting for decisions to be made by the court. He said owners admitted to have used the weapons in poaching while others were hiring them out to poachers under a special agreement.
“Some owners are no longer eligible to own them…the court will decide what to do with the weapons,” Kagasheki said.
He also said that after the operation, a total of 101 suspects were arrested and their cases filed at Liwale police post. He said so far about 15 cases have been taken to court while only one has been ruled on. The other 14 cases are still pending in court.
He said 20 other cases have been heard and given a ‘Binding Over’ judgment. He said the suspects in these cases have been released on bail and given conditions not to travel outside Liwale district, report at Liwale police post at every end of the month, not commit any offence within two years and being interrogated by the regional security committee.
He said police are still going on with investigations on 66 other cases, adding that suspects will be taken to court immediately after investigations complete.
Kagasheki said the ministry would start providing education to the community through various programmes to raise awareness on the importance of preserving natural resources.