ELEPHANT and rhino populations in Tanzania have begun to tremendously bounce back, President John Pombe Magufuli has said.
Moving a speech to dissolve the Parliament in Dodoma on Tuesday, Dr Magufuli said the number of jumbos roaming national parks and other conservancies had risen from 43,000 in 2015 to 51,000 last year, while rhino population, which in the recent past dropped from over 10,000 to just about 100, rebounded from 162 in 2015 to 190 in 2019.
The President who was giving an overview of the tourism sector performance, attributed the resurfacing of the otherwise endangered species to the government’s crackdown against criminal networks involved in industrial-scale poaching.
“We have, over the last five years, demonstrated utmost vigilance in safeguarding our natural resources,” the President explained.
According to Dr Magufuli, the establishment of the paramilitary units in the Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources sought to transform operations for wildlife and forest institutions to reinforce an anti-poaching drive.
He said the establishment of the paramilitary force was the government's strong commitment of controlling poaching and depletion of natural resources in the country.
The departure from civilian to paramilitary system by the Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa), Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), Tanzania Wildlife Management (Tawa) and Tanzania Forest Services Agency (TFS), not only seeks to protect natural resources, but also instill discipline in the institutions which fall under the Tourism and Natural Resources Ministry.
The move has seen its senior officers and conservators taken to Mlele camp in Katavi Game Reserve, located in Katavi Region for paramilitary training.
Wildlife Management Act number 5 of 2009 provides for the shift of the institutions from civilian to the paramilitary system.
In the same vein, Dr Magufuli has expressed optimism on the 2bn/-a year sector in the next five years.
He singled out the opening up of new national parks in the western corridor, roll out of the Resilient Natural Resource Management for Tourism and Growth (REGROW), and the launch of Utalii Channel on National Television as crucial steps in bolstering the sector.