Game Frontiers Tanzania Limited has replied to a letter written to the firm by Tourism and Natural Resources minister Khamis Kagasheki to clarify on allegations of subletting part of its hunting bloc to a mining firm.
The hunting company was reported to have sublet part of its hunting bloc to Uranium Resources PLC and Western Metal Ltd, risking revocation of its hunting license for violation of regulations.
Game Frontiers submitted their response to the minister, who had explained the move as meant to accord the hunting firm the right to be heard following strong accusations against it for presumed contravention of the law governing hunting blocs.
Ambassador Kagasheki told The Guardian on Sunday that his office has received the letter from Game Frontiers and a team of lawyers is analysing it before determining the next step.
“I am told the document reached us on Tuesday and that it is voluminous. I don’t know yet how big it is or the contents. The lawyers are looking into it keenly and they will advise what to do thereafter,” he stated.
Issuing the order for explanation, minister Kagasheki had instructed that Game Frontiers had 30 days to respond to the letter from the minister, requiring clarifications from the firm.
“They had a month to respond to my letter, but they have done it early, which is better. They are to be heard before a decision is taken on the matter,” he said.
On August 11 the minister told MPs that his office would take action against Game Frontiers on the matter as it was contrary to the law for the hunting firm to sublet its hunting area to another firm.
The minister’s intervention followed claims made by legislator Halima Mdee (Kawe-Chadema) on July 30 that Game Frontiers Tanzania Ltd (holder of a hunting licence) had sublet its hunting bloc to Uranium Resources PLC and Western Metal Ltd for uranium exploration activities.
The minister told MPs he would act on the claims, at which point the company said to be subletting its hunting bloc issued a statement denying the claims.
“We would like to inform the general public that the accusations leveled by the MP and others are totally unfounded,” the company stated in an advertisement published in a number of newspapers.
The company said that in 2007 Uranium Resources Plc and Western Metals Limited were granted a uranium prospecting license over an area which overlaps part of Game Frontiers hunting bloc.
“Obviously mineral prospecting cannot be conducted simultaneously with wildlife conservation and tourist hunting because exploration activities have a tendency of disturbing the animals, and partially also degrading their habitats. It may also harm individuals conducting exploration activities,” the statement read in part.
Licensing uranium prospecting companies over part of the hunting block had the effect of disturbing and disrupting tourist hunting activities as the company had to give access to prospecting companies so that they conduct their work, it said.
The game company could not conduct tourist hunting activities with prospecting operations continuing, the statement intoned.
In that event it could not achieve the maximum utilisation of its allocated quota for tourist hunting meanwhile as it had to meet other obligations related to taxes for that hunting block.
These include payment of 40 per cent of anticipated earnings in its entire allocated hunting area to the government, payment of block fees, TALA fees and professional hunters’ fees. “Contractual commitment with staff and clients remained the same,” it had pointed out.
Ambassador Kagasheki told the House then that the Wildlife Act No. 5, 2009 prohibits holders of hunting blocs licences to lease the blocs to other parties.