Last week the Tanzanian authorities released details of the breaking up of a dangerous poaching gang following the arrest of two police officers who were transporting elephant tusks. Authorities have just released more details following the interrogation of the police officers. It appears that high ranking police officers are organising the poaching of endangered wildlife in the country.
The report last week appeared to be good news that a poaching syndicate had been broken up but these new revelations are disheartening. The allegations include senior police officers contracting out poaching to gangs originating from DR Congo and Burundi to kill animals in Tanzania’s national parks.
The two original police officers were arrested in Kagera region with 17 pieces of elephant tusk. Following interrogation they have revealed that some high ranking police officers from the Mara region have been contracting Burundi, DR Congo nationals and some locals to carry out poaching in national parks.
It is reported that well placed police officers at regional and district levels have established a sophisticated network that conducts poaching activities.
The police officers in the centre of the scandal are said to come from Kagera, Mara, Kigoma, Mwanza, Geita and Shinyanga.
The senior officers involve junior police in the poaching operations by promising promotions and better career prospects.
The arrested police officers also confirmed that the network was involved in the killing of a rhino named George that was brought from South Africa and received by President Jakaya
Kikwete on November 1, 2010.
Unnamed local sources said that the arrested pair were happy and comfortable about their situation and were confident of winning their court case by using the defence of the tusks being on their possession as ‘an accident of work’. The arrested officers have threatened to name the senior officers if they are found guilty. Further unconfirmed reports state that local court officials are also involved in the poaching syndicate.