Tanzania: Poaching on the rise at key national park

by Jan 11, 2011Wildlife News

Arusha – Poaching is among major problems facing Katavi National Park located south west of Tanzania. Elephants are the favourite animals targeted for their trophies as their tusks have a growing market in the Far East, said the acting chief park warden, Mr David Kadomo.

Refugees from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and other countries have been blamed for wanton killing of the animals which, he said, has become worse in recent times. He revealed this in a report presented to a team of journalists from various media houses who visited the game sanctuary recently.

Said he: “The killing of wild animals for their trophies is now carried out for commercial interests, with elephant tusks being smuggled through neighbouring countries.”

In recent years, Tanzania has been blamed for being the source of contraband elephant tusks that are being sold in the Far East.

Mr Kadomo could not, however, give figures of the amount of ivory seized or elephants killed annually by poachers in the area.

He pointed an accusing finger to refugees residing in Rukwa, Kigoma and other western regions for being responsible for the carnage.

He would neither say if increased roads across the 4,471 square kilometre park, the third largest in the country, have abated the animals’ killing.

However, he noted that many animals have been knocked down by speeding motor vehicles along roads in the park.

The protected area is known for having the highest concentration of elephants. During the dry season, for instance, 4,000 elephants converge along a river that cuts through the park.

It was established in 1974 after the then 2,253 square kilometre Katavi Plains Game Reserve was upgraded. The latter has been a protected area since the colonial days.

In 1998, its size was nearly doubled to 4,471 square kilometres. Thus it became the third largest national park in the country, after the Serengeti and Ruaha national parks.