The government has potentially lost about Sh2.5 trillion in revenue over the past two years following its decision to ban the export of live wild animals.
This was revealed on Tuesday by Natural Resources and Tourism deputy minister Japhet Hasunga during his meeting with stakeholders in the live animals trade, who had sought audience with him.
The government imposed a three-year ban on the export of live wild animals in March 2016, saying that it would remain in force until proper procedures had been put in place to ensure that only approved animals were exported.
The then Natural Resources and Tourism minister, Prof Jumanne Maghembe, said in Parliament that he had directed the Wildlife Department to come up with proper procedures to ensure that only primates and reptiles were cleared for export, adding that animals such as giraffes had been exported illegally in the past.
He also cited cases where monkeys had been intercepted by the government as they were being illegally shipped out of the country to be used for medical research. He said the business would not have benefitted the country.
However, Mr Hasunga said on Tuesday that apart from denying the government about Sh 2.5 trillion in revenue, the ban had negatively affected business in Tanzania over the past two years.
“This amount of money that has been lost is huge. I’m not ready to see this situation continue,’’ he said.
He hinted that the government may lift the ban and at the same time ensure that the export of live animals was done according to approved procedures, which include paying tax.
“This is also meant to stop poaching,’’ he added. “Many reptiles such as crocodiles had been sold and transported illegally for a long time. This was very unacceptable. There were a few dishonest people who were at the centre of this whole business,’’ he noted.
The chairman of the Tanzania Wildlife Exporters Association (Twea), Mr Enock Balilemwa, said that the ban was not fair to traders of live animals because cases which had been cited when the government imposed the ban did not involve licensed traders.
He said the government had already launched an investigation and established that top government officials were implicated in the illegal export of the said animals.
Mr Balilemwa added that the traders had been seeking audience with the government so that they could say how they had been affected by the ban but to no avail.
“The government has been incurring a lot of cost in killing quelea quelea. In 2016, it hired an aircraft from Kenya to kill 132 jackals. All that money would have been saved if we were allowed to hunting the animals and sell them abroad...these a just a few examples,’’ he said.
The acting Wildlife director, Mr Nebbo Mwina, confirmed that the ban had adversely affected business in the wildlife sector, adding that the business was dominated by Tanzanians.