(WWF) – While inspecting the country’s seized ivory stockpile this week, Tanzanian President Dr John Pombe Magufuli ordered law enforcement officials to crack down on elephant poaching and trafficking syndicates.
“We are not going to allow our natural resources to be depleted,” Magufuli said, while offering federal security agencies his full support and urging them to “arrest all those involved in this illicit trade.”
“I am behind you,” he said, “protect our elephants from being slaughtered.”
A number of significant poaching arrests have been made across the country in recent weeks, and have led to the seizure of at least 50 pieces of ivory.
Last month, Magufuli visited the Dar es Salaam airport, a major transnational trafficking point, to ensure that security officials were able to detect concealed ivory.
Although Tanzania’s elephant populations have suffered significantly from industrial-scale poaching, Magufuli said he was confident that the crime would soon be “history.”
Selous Game Reserve, for example, has lost almost 90 per cent of its elephants in recent decades, but poaching rates appear to be slowing.
“WWF congratulates President Magufuli for his leadership and the actions taken by his government in tackling poaching and saving elephants,” said Amani Ngusaru, WWF-Tanzania Country Director. “He continues to demonstrate his support and drive positive action to the eliminating poaching in Tanzania.”
WWF is working in partnership with the Tanzanian government to save Selous Game Reserve from industrial threats, including poaching of elephants.
A WWF study released last week found that investing in elephant conservation brings significant economic returns. In East African countries like Tanzania, for every dollar invested in protecting elephants yields back $1.78.
This report prepared by WWF.