Tanzanian Leader of the Opposition, Freeman Mbowe, announced in the Parliament yesterday that it’s time to get tough with poachers and that those caught poaching should face the death penalty and be hung. Mbowe was speaking at a debate on the Natural Resources and Tourism budget.
He referred to a The Parliamentary Committee on Land, Natural Resources and Environment report which said that if current trends continue then Tanzania could lose all it’s elephants in as little as 7 years.
He argued that to protect the country’s national resources and elephants then the government should not be frightened of an international backlash from human rights organisations from bringing in the death penalty for poachers.
Natural Resources and Tourism minister Khamis Kagasheki at the debate also announced that plans were in hand for the launch of an anti-poaching operation of a size that has never been seen in Tanzania before. While he was unable to give details of the Presidential ordered operation he did say it would involve multi-agencies including the military.
“I don’t want to say when the operation will begin because we don’t want to alert those engaged in this illegal business, but I can assure you that it will make Operation Uhai (carried out in the 1980s) look like a small thing,” Kagasheki said. [pullquote]Such moves should include enacting a law under which people convicted of poaching will be handed the death penalty. Let us make tough laws. We should be ready to be blamed by foreigners if we want to safeguard our resources[/pullquote]
Mbowe said one of the issues was that poaching has gotten out of hand in the country because officials were involved in the illegal wildlife trade. This official involvement meant that there was no political will to tackle the problem.
“It is time now to take bold steps, without fear or favour. Such moves should include enacting a law under which people convicted of poaching will be handed the death penalty. Let us make tough laws. We should be ready to be blamed by foreigners if we want to safeguard our resources. ” Mbowe explained.
Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Lazaro Nyalandu during the debate also announced that Tanzania would be recruiting another 1,000 wildlife rangers in the next financial year to bring the total number of rangers to 4,000.