A lot has been said about this particular subject, so much to some extent that it makes it intricate to write this article! I’ve had the privilege to visit our wonderful Game Reserves several years ago when I was quite young. Two years ago, I also visited our beautiful and famous Mikumi National Park. Upon the decision to write an article concerning the wildlife lost on poaching- elephants in particular, I thought I knew exactly what needed to be said or written, perhaps.
Stop poaching. Our wildlife is our heritage. We should unite to protect it. Very clear and simple messages with great significance, BUT! There is a but somewhere, because as I sit here writing, I’ve come to realize that there is, or seems to be a very big problem among us, as Tanzanians and as Africans. I would crack my brain to figure it out. I fail to understand how even a foreigner, sees the value in protecting our wildlife than we do. The little research I’ve done has made me come to know that, our very own Tanzanians are the biggest link between poachers and the beautiful wildlife. Some have gone as far as to use their government positions to allow poachers to travel around undetected. My heart bleeds. It aches for these poor defenseless wild animals that we deliberately kill for the untamed love of money. Our children, grandchildren; our future generation stands a great risk of only seeing wild animals in paintings. This is heartbreaking, but real.
It is so real that in Tanzania 60% of the elephants of the savanna were lost just within 5 years. 85,181 being dead between years 2009 and 2014. It is now a fact that Tanzania has become the epicenter of the Elephant poaching crisis. Obvious efforts are made by our Tanzanian government to fight against poaching though facing challenges such as, lack of sophisticated and enough technology equipment. With about 3000 poachers within our country, 1300 have been captured by the authorities but the 1700 are still on the loose. Clearly, the government can’t fight alone. This is why the Chinese embassy took the initiative to organize the “Walk for Elephants” event that was held in Dar es salaam, Tanzania on Saturday, 14th of January 2017 as a good start in the fight against poaching.
This aim of the walk was to raise awareness to the people about this subject. The walk was a huge success with about 500 registered participants, among them diplomats and senior politicians led by the former President of Tanzania Hon. Benjamin Mkapa and activists against elephant poaching and ivory trafficking. The event raised awareness about the danger of extinction that our elephants face. The government of China has set a great example to be followed by other countries and international organizations in protecting the African heritage. China, aware that it has been one of the biggest ivory markets, has now banned ivory trading effective from March 2017. This is an act that the President of China Hon. Xi Jinping ought to be praised for.
CYNESA Tanzania team was not left behind either. We fully participated in the day’s events from beginning to end. I must say, I am not only honored but humbled for being part of a great youth united to go for an even greater cause. The message I choose to leave you with as I wrap up my article is very straight forward; it is a choice: to sit, watch and be eternally remorseful or to stand up in unity and take action against poaching.
I believe, everyone has a role to play and can use their respective positions/capacity to take part in this fight. That’s what I believe but, I most certainly know, that change begins with me, with you, with us!
By Chihema Mhando, CYNESA Tanzania.