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Poaching: New report puts Tanzania on ‘list of shame’

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Report says Tanzania is among seven countries whose “corrupt governments” support poaching.PHOTO|FILE 

By Boniface Meena The Citizen Reporter

Posted  Thursday, April 24  2014 at  00:00

In Summary

It says organised crime, government corruption and militias are all linked to elephant poaching and the illegal ivory trade. Poachers in Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Sudan and Kenya it found out move across borders with near impunity.

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Nairobi. A new report has listed Tanzania among seven “corrupt governments” in Africa that support elephant poaching.

Other countries on the list are Kenya, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Sudan, Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The report, Ivory’s Curse: The Militarization and Professionalisation of Poaching in Africa, released early this week accuse public officials in the named countries of condoning or arming criminals who kill elephants and rhinos for their tusks and horns, respectively.

The report is a joint effort by the conservation group Born Free USA and C4ADS, a non-profit organization that analyzes the drivers of conflict and insecurity.

It says organised crime, government corruption and militias are all linked to elephant poaching and the illegal ivory trade. Poachers in Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Sudan and Kenya it found out move across borders with near impunity.

Mr Adam Roberts, Born Free USA CEO, said: “For years, Born Free USA and other animal advocates have campaigned against the trade in elephant ivory, but on conservation and animal welfare concerns. And we wanted to find a little bit more detail about who was behind the ivory trade. It’s not just enough to say it’s criminal syndicates, nefarious profiteers. We wanted to know who is really behind it so that we can try and get governments around the world to do more to crackdown.”

Mr Roberts said Born Free needed some help in gathering that kind of information.

“That’s one of the reasons that we commissioned C4ADS to do the report for us. Because I think the breadth of our capabilities within the conservation community are pretty much limited to conservation. But having a defence analyst that looks at the militarism behind all of these poaching incidents gives them access to information that we wouldn’t otherwise have.”

The latest report follows the one released by Interpol early in the year that also named Tanzania as among the leading source of illegal ivory in the East African region last year while Kenya and Uganda have become favourite transit routes, according to the international security agency.

The Interpol report showed Tanzania’s elephant population plummeting in recent years and that in the largest Selous Game reserve which boasted the world second largest elephant population at 70,000 elephants in 2006 had an estimated 39,000 in in 2009 and currently stand at 13,084 elephants. The elephant population in Ruaha National Park has declined by 44 per cent since 2006 and now numbers approximately 20,090, saiad Interpol in their report that colloborate many other findings of a similar nature.

Ivory’s Curse: The Militarization and Professionalization of Poaching in Africa found unique problems in each country -- though many of them were marked by conflict. It says, in Sudan, government-allied militias fund their operations by poaching elephants outside North Sudan’s borders.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, state security forces provide rebels with weapons and support in exchange for ivory.