Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Tanzania: Hunters' gunshots signal doom to tourism in Tarangire

Arusha Times (Arusha)

5 December 2009

Arusha — What currently ails Loliondo Game Controlled Area could easily be replicated at Tarangire National Park; the line separating hunting activities and conservation in the area is rapidly fading.

Park authority foresees imminent problems, including conflicts unless something is done to save the situation.

Mr Erasto Lufungulo the Chief Warden at Tarangire revealed that gunshots from nearby hunting blocks have started to scare tourists and things continue getting worse because visitors on game drives have been encountering gory incidences of killed animals and their hunters busy chopping off heads and limbs from their games.

"There are some hunting blocks that border the park and regular gunshots can be heard by tourists taking game drives or those staying at hotels or lodges here, these scare them and most get even more frightened upon witnessing hunters slaughtering animals nearby," Mr Lufungulo pointed out.

The Warden did not rule out the possibility of firearms accidents should bullets miss their wildlife targets and hit human beings.

Apart from licensed commercial hunters, Tarangire Park also suffers poaching activities and between January and November this year a total of 145 illegal hunters were arrested which has almost tripled the number of poachers who were arrested last year (51).

According to Mr Lufungulo, poachers have hatched new schemes including planting poisoned watermelons along routes used by elephants thus killing the jumbos. A total of seven elephants were killed this year.

"Tarangire poachers mainly target elephant tusks and the problem here is that our animals sometimes venture outside the park and once outside our territory illegal hunters can kill them at will because our wardens have no mandate to make any arrests outside the park and whenever the situation call for it we are forced to seek assistance from the local police force," he explained.



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