Resident hunters are calling for full recognition as the government reviews operations of the sector.
They said although controlled hunting by the license holders was beneficial to wildlife conservation, some officials at the ministry had for long “dismally failed to promote resident hunting.”
Local hunters based in Arusha last week welcomed an announcement made by the minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Hamisi Kigwangalla recently that the ban against resident hunting would be lifted.
“This is a good move but we want a level playing field just as is the case with the way the tourist/foreign hunters are treated,” lamented one of them, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The licensed hunter, operating from the TFA Complex in Arusha,said many of his colleagues were still bitter with the October 2015 ban against resident hunting by former Natural Resources and Tourism minister Lazaro Nyalandu.
The two-year ban was met with bitter criticisms from members of Hunters’ Association of Tanzania ((HAT) who accused the ministry of discriminating against them at the expense of tourist hunters.
Recently while speaking to stakeholders in the natural resources and tourism sector in Dodoma, DrKigwangalla said the government would review the ban.
However, he picked another controversy with the powerful tourist hunters and other players in the industry when he said the government was revoking all hunting block licenses.
Allied to this was the suspension of hunting allocations for the upcoming 2018-2022 period in favour of introducing a new tendering or auctioning system for all applicants to abide by.
Tourist hunters under their lobby, the Tanzania Hunting Operators Association (Tahoa) and the Tanzania Professional Hunters Association (TPHA), have claimed the measure would impact negatively on wildlife conservation and tourism.
Local hunters, much as they welcomed the move by the new minister, accused some officials of the ministry of unfairly associating them with escalating cases of poaching.
“We are here to tell Dr Kigwangalla that the reasons why our licenses were revoked were not clear. To make matters worse, the former minister Nyalandu associated us with poaching,” lamented Abdul Rahman Abubakar, the chairperson of HAT Arusha chapter.
The new minister reiterated the government’s position on hunting during his visit to Arusha last week,saying the new system would not discriminate against the local hunters as feared.
During his tenure as the minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Nyalandu defended the government over the move, alleging association of the local hunters and wanton killing of wildlife by poachers.
Mr Nyalandu, quit the ruling party CCM a week ago, saying he was dissatisfied the way it was running the government. He had also stepped down as Singida North MP on CCM ticket. He represented the constituency since 2000.
The tiff between the local hunters and the Natural Resources ministry flared up in January last year,only three months after October 2015 suspension of local hunting when HAT openly accused the government for “stagnation of resident hunting”.
The ban, they argued, contravened the Wildlife Act No. 5 of 2009 which empowered the citizen hunters as managers of the would-be designated areas.
“These public (ministry) officials showed their utter contempt for the law and got away with it”, the association said in a letter to Mr Nyalandu’s successor Prof. Jumanne Maghembe in a letter dated January 13th, 2016.
Prof Maghembe, a legislator for Mwanga constituency in Kilimanjaro region, lost the cabinet post during a recent mini-cabinet reshuffle.