by Ben Taylor
A busy first few months for Minister Kigwangalla
The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Hamisi Kigwangalla, has stirred up the sector since his appointment in late 2017. In a little over six months in office, he has accused several hunting companies of grave acts of misconduct, including announcing that the managing director of Otterlo Business Corporation (OBC) was under investigation for corruption; revoked and then extended tourist hunting licenses issued between 2013 and 2017; accused Ministry staff of collusion with poachers; fired the head of Wildlife Conservation, Emmanuel Barabara; and directed the police to arrest certain individuals he suspects of involvement either in poaching or in the death of conservationist Wayne Lotter.
These moves have prompted both support and criticism.
Leaders of the Tanzania Professional Hunters Association (TPHA) accused the Minister of “disrespect for natural justice.” TPHA linked the minister’s remarks against some of the association’s members with his attempt to cancel validly-granted hunting blocks to operators, claiming that this is a dangerous precedent that is not based on law and “not in the best interests of the tourism industry”.
Conservation activist, Susannah Nordlund, said local activists’ hopes had been raised by the Minister’s early stance against OBC – including a promise that they would be “gone by January” – but that their hopes had been dashed by his more recent actions. “Now they feel sorry that he has had to bow to pressure from his superiors,” she wrote in a blogpost after Kigwangalla expressed support for OBC following a visit by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the Crown Prince of Dubai, to OBC hunting blocks in March.
The Minister stated in April that not a single wild animal has been reported killed by poachers in the past 6 months.
Selous elephant collaring project launched
The government, with support from WWF, has launched the country’s largest ever elephant collaring effort. 60 elephants will be collared in and around the Selous. This will support reserve management and government rangers, enabling them to track elephant movements, identify and act against threats in real-time.
“In a landscape as vast as Selous where poaching continues, better information on the whereabouts of elephants is critical to anticipate the risks they may encounter, including fatal attacks by poachers,” said Asukile Kajuni of WWF-Tanzania. “The collars mark an important first step in the zero-poaching approach we are taking by enabling wildlife protection teams to be on the front foot against poaching attacks,” he added.
In 2014, UNESCO placed Selous on its List of World Heritage in Danger due to the severity of elephant poaching. In the past 40 years, widespread poaching of elephants for ivory has seen the population in Selous decimated, with numbers plunging from 110,000 to an estimated 15,000.
To collar an elephant, the animal is first sedated by an immobilisation dart. A team then moves in to gather health data about the elephant and attach the collar. This takes a total of up to 30 minutes, following which the elephant is given an antidote to revive and join its herd. (Daily News)
Parliament endorses Paris Climate Agreement
The National Assembly in early April formally endorsed the Paris Climate Change agreement. The Minister of State in the Vice President Office (Union Affairs and the Environment), January Makamba, tabled the motion, which was unanimously supported.
Makamba said endorsing the agreement would have a positive impact on the country’s economy. “It will strengthen Tanzania’s multinational cooperation in matters pertaining to climate change,” he said, adding that the pact would help increase opportunities in clean energy technology through the use of natural gas for domestic purposes, thus accelerating progress towards industrialisation and the use of affordable energy.
After parliament’s endorsement, the next step is for Tanzania to formally ratify the treaty. Tanzania will become the 176th country to do so.
The Paris Agreement deals with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance starting in the year 2020. The language of the agreement was negotiated by representatives of 196 parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Paris and adopted by consensus on 12 December 2015. US President, Donald Trump, announced in July 2017 his intention to withdraw from the agreement. Under the agreement, the earliest possible date for a US withdrawal to take effect is November 2020, shortly before the end of President Trump’s current term.