Tanzania: Man Suspected of Killing Rhino Dies

by Jan 4, 2011Rhinos

Serengeti — Police in Serengeti District, Mara Region, have reportedly killed a man suspected to have been among the poachers who killed a rhino in the Serengeti National Park (Senapa) last month.

The Mara regional police commander, Mr Robert Boaz, confirmed the incident yesterday, noting that investigations on the matter were still on-going.

Investigations carried out by The Citizen revealed that the suspect killed by the Police was among four who were arrested at Bonchugu Village in Sedeko Ward in the district.

The Bonchugu Village chairman, Mr Makena Mwikwabe, identified the man as Chacha Marara who was arrested together with three other relatives on Sunday at 2 am.

He said the four suspects were arrested at their home in connection with the killing of one of the rhinos that were flown into the country from South Africa last May.

The village chairman said the suspects were taken to Mugumu Central Police Station where they were reportedly tortured.

“It is believed that Marara was seriously beaten by the police, a beating which caused his death,” he said, adding that the police claimed that the man died after he jumped off a vehicle that was ferrying him to the central police station.

Mr Mwikwabe said the relatives of the deceased, who he identified as Baru Marara, Mwita Marara and Mwita Philemon who were also under police custody, had told him that they were all beaten by the police but Mr Marara bore most of the torture.

He said relatives of Mr Marara have refused to collect the body of the deceased, calling for thorough investigations to establish the real cause of his death.

“I have deployed my investigators to Mugumu to establish what really happened… If the police are involved they will be punished,” said the Mara RPC.

Last year, police in Serengeti District reportedly killed a secondary school student after he was implicated in the theft of a chicken.

The RPC said investigations on the incident have been completed and the report would be made public in the near future.

However, unconfirmed reports indicate that police officers who were involved in the killing of the student have been transferred from their duty station.

The rhino that was found dead in December, last year, with the horns missing was one of the five Eastern Black Rhinos brought into the country from South Africa mid last year.

The five rhinos were received with much fanfare and a huge PR campaign involving President Jakaya Kikwete, who travelled to the Senapa to witness the offloading of the five rare rhinos from the aircraft upon arrival from South Africa.

The minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Ezekiel Maige, said over the weekend that protection of the endangered rhinos against poachers in the Senapa would now be reinforced by aerial patrols.

More armed rangers have also been deployed into the vast park since the rhino’s killing last month.

Mr Maige said the government was deeply concerned by increasing cases of poaching in the Serengeti National Park.

He admitted, when speaking to journalists in the park on Sunday, that the poachers posed a great threat not only to the rhinos but also to other wild animals under protection.

He said an operation to track down the rhino killers was underway and that already 10 suspects have so far been arrested.

He added that several measures were now underway to ensure such wanton killings of the country’s wildlife heritage shall not happen again.

Mr Maige, who spoke to reporters after meeting Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani, added that on foot patrols inside and around the park would also be strengthened.