The Tanzanian military is poised to enter game parks in anti-poaching capacities. Poaching is probably on the rise in this economic downturn, but this just doesn’t bode well.
Two weeks go, Tanzania’s Tourism Minister, Shamsa Mwangunga, announced that Tanzania’s military is being trained to enter the national park to deal with “sophisticated poaching syndicates and networks with international links [that] are swelling and imposing a serious threat to our helpless-wild-animals.”
In a truly laughable incident, the Minister reported conviscating zebra meat and hides that he said were headed to a “Pakistani niche.” I’m not sure what the “niche” is, but Pakistan is about as far from Tanzania as Disneyland in Paris.
There’s something more going on, here. I’ve written before how poaching always increases during economic downturns, and I’ve also written about how the breakdown of the CITES convention banning ivory sales has also contributed to increased poaching. But something just doesn’t sound right, here.
The Tanzanian military may be among East Africa’s best – after all, it was they who ousted Idi Amin. But they are still a rowdy bunch compared to the heavily trained and educated park ranger. I, for one, wouldn’t want them in my wilderness.
The end of April there was a huge explosion at a military ammunition depot in Dar-es-Salaam that has still not been explained. The BBC reported on May 20 that eight Tanzanian soldiers in Dar-es-Salaam beat a traffic policeman senseless; the man was only saved by a crowd of on-lookers who started shouting at the soldiers. And perhaps most noteworthy, a recently released transcript from a court case in Arusha last February named former Tanzania Peoples’ Defense Forces officer, (read: “soldier”), Nathaniel Kiure, guilty of illegal possession of giraffe meat and hides.
People need to eat. Soldiers are people, and as reported by the Arusha Times Tanzanian soldiers’ pay is falling behind. Like many places in the world, recruits to the military often come from industrious if ambitious lads who have hit a brick wall in their search for a regular job. They’re already mad. Now, if they’re not being paid, and maybe not being fed very well, what are they to do?