Stung by criticism in parliament over the allegedly illegal export of a range of wildlife and birds aboard a Qatar air force cargo plane last year has the Tanzanian government in a knee jerk reaction banned ALL exports of wildlife and birds for at least a year.
The time will be used to establish monitoring mechanisms and plug the often glaring loopholes in regulations, monitoring and enforcement. In the process were three senior wildlife officials suspended from duty, led by the Director of Wildlife who was sent on forced leave alongside two other of his senior staff.
However, the mood amongst the opposition and outside parliament amongst the conservation fraternity is combative as the following comments show: ‘For us there was clear complicity in the illegal shipment of our wildlife by the Qatari plane. How can a whole foreign air force aircraft come to Tanzania and openly load game including giraffes and take off without top officials colluding. That is where the police should investigate to establish the godfathers of this operation. Suspending some officials is a smoke screen, they are sacrificial lambs in this game. CITES made a big report last year ahead of Doha and all there is to know about how lax our enforcement is, how easy it is to transit through Tanzania, is written there. Government has been found out and is now panicking a lot. How come that these three officials were promoted right after the deal with Qatar went through. Promotions in Tanzania must be sanctioned at that level from high up, so who is covering for whom now. Also is government record about conservation now very muddied. Our officials have lost credibility, in particular the tourism minister who called UNESCO names and makes one U-turn after the next. Should he not resign? He was deputy minister for tourism in last government and is an accomplice by the office he held then or the failure to prevent it happening. The former minister was sacked by her voters who did not even nominate her for the CCM candidature in the last elections but that was not enough. Let police investigate this whole affair that made sure that these animals were sent by truck to the airport and then openly loaded and the aircraft given permission to take off. Where are the animals now? In Qatar, where there is terrible heat and desert only?’
Other sources from Arusha also echoed the same sentiment that the suspension of officials was a mere smoke screen to divert attention from the real culprits.