Tanzania: Laws Fail to Protect Wildlife

Lenient sentences issued by courts of law have been mentioned as part of obstacles in maintaining sustainable conservation of the national parks.

Rubondo Island National Park Acting Chief Park Warden, Mr Emmanuel Kaaya, sounded an alarm that there is a need to review some laws as poachers find them too soft and keep degrading the parks.

He gave an example that some poachers and illegal fishermen who destroy fish breeding grounds, catch huge numbers of fish and degrade the environment that has been conserved for long, but end up getting a few months behind bars or conditional discharges.

"We are facing a huge challenge because we try our best to protect the park, arrest poachers but when we get to the court they are given lenient sentences, such as a 20,000/- fine and conditional discharge while what they get in their illegal activities is highly valued," said Mr Kaaya.

He noted that in the last financial year some 700 people were arrested for going against the Tanzania National Parks Act, Wildlife Act as well as the Fishing Act.

Mr Kaaya noted that most of the culprits come from Misongo, Ikuza, Maisome and other parts of Chato District and that many are not residents near the area; hence it is difficult to trace them.

However, he commended the courts for a job well done in dealing with such matters, noting that more than 95 percent of the cases are won by the park. He appealed for the media to promote national parks so as to increase tourists, both local and foreign and hence boost national income.

Mr Kaaya noted that a lot of resources are employed to protect the park but there are fishing camps around it. He attributed this to low numbers of tourists to the island which is not known. However, he said strategies have been put in place to promote it.

The park has offered support to the community, such as construction of a dispensary at Maisome, an administration block at Maisome Secondary School as well as office equipment and desks.

Tourism Warden, Mr Fadhili Kimambo said the park boasts of many animals such as bushbucks, elephants, giraffe, chimpanzees and snakes in a thick, well conserved forest.

Source: Tanzania Daily News