Monday, July 14, 2014

Banned hunting firm threatens court action

Advocate OF Green Mile Safari Co Ltd (GMS),

Advocate OF Green Mile Safari Co Ltd (GMS), Alloyce Komba address during the press conference held in Dar es Salaam yesterday. Right is Communication Consultant of GMS, Evarist Mwitumba. PHOTO|EDWIN MJWAHUZI 

By Sturmius Mtweve and Zephania Ubwani ,The Citizen Reporters

Dar es Salaam/Arusha.Green Miles Safari (GMS), a United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based company whose hunting licence in the Selous Game Reserve has been revoked, says it will sue the government for stopping its operations there.

It said the decision to cancel the licence would cause it to incur huge losses amounting to $10 million (Sh16 billion).

The minister for Tourism and Natural Resources, Mr Lazaro Nyalandu, on Friday announced the annulment of the firm’s hunting blocks – Lake Natron Game Controlled Area (East), Gonabis/Kidunda WMA and MK1 –Selous.

The minister accused the company of hunting with automatic weapons fitted with silencers, hunting female and young animals and using vehicles to chase and knock down animals, all prohibited in the law.

The company has also been accused of allowing visitors to hunt unaccompanied by a professional hunter or game scout, hunting animals and birds not listed on its licence and allowing a client younger than 18 years to hunt.

He said he took the steps based on video evidence presented in Parliament in a matter brought up by Iringa Urban opposition MP the Rev Peter Msingwa.

But according to Mr Aloyce Komba, a lawyer and advocate for GSM, the company will be seeking compensation running into billions of shillings for the minister’s move. He lamented that since 2013 when they obtained the licence running to 2018, it has not had a smooth run.

He accused Mr Nyalandu of being pro an America hunting firm which is a business rival.

“The essence of all this is due to the existing conflict in Lake Natron Game Controlled Area (East), formerly known as Lake Natron Game Controlled Area (North) hunting block which is legally owned by GSM,” said Mr Komba.

Mr Komba claimed that the American company was not happy when GSM won the licence in an area where they themselves had an interest.

Neither minister Nyalandu nor the said American company could be reached for comment.

“Surprisingly, up to the moment the minister took the decision, GSM was not accorded the right to reply or be heard,” Mr Komba said while also accusing the Rev Msigwa and Mr James Lembeli who is the Parliamentary Committee chairman for Land, Environment and Natural Resources of witch-hunting.

Meanwhile in Arusha, it has emerged that GSM is in conflict with another company over hunting rights in Lake Natron area.

The firm had been stopped on court orders to hunt in the Lake Natron Game Controlled Area alongside Wengbert Windrose Safaris since August last year.

The orders which followed a commercial dispute, were given by the Commercial Court of Tanzania prohibiting the two companies to undertake tourist hunting in the area unless otherwise stated.

Speaking to journalists in Longido last week, an official of Wengbert Safaris Mr Alfred Joseph, said they were surprised why the rival company was allowed to continue hunting in the area.

“We don’t know where they got the permit to continue hunting in contravention of the court order,” he said, noting that tourist hunting has involved foreigners who have to get special permits.

According to WWS officials, some of the hunting blocs were allocated to a rival company (Green Miles Safaris), a measure which forced them to challenge the offer in court.