The official opposition in Parliament has come out strongly against a wave of poaching of wildlife sweeping across the country’s national parks and game reserves, and blames the government for not doing enough to deal with the scourge.
Tabling its views on the budget speech for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism in Parliament yesterday, Shadow Minister Peter Msigwa (Chadema- Iringa Urban) accused the government of ‘turning a blind eye’ even as some individuals had been publicly accused of carrying out the illegal practices.
Selous Game Reserve and Serengeti National Parks are said to have borne the brunt of the illegal hunts, severely decimating their wildlife numbers. Reports state that around 200 to 300 wild animals are killed every year in the Serengeti National Park alone.
In the Selous Game Reserve the situation is reported to be just as bad, where a total of 31,348 jumbos are said to have been killed in the past three years.
Poachers are now moving from the traditional way of hunting wildlife with guns to trapping them with poisoned pumpkins, mainly employed by poachers in Manyara and Serengeti National Parks.
The MP cited the case of an accused person, one Bryson Baloshingwa Naftal, a resident of Busunzu village in Kibondo district, Kigoma region, whom he accuses of being a ring leader of the secretive network sponsoring rhino poaching and illegal trade on ivory in various areas of Serengeti, Katavi, Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Conservation as well as Ugalla, Rungwe, Moyowosi, and Maswa game reserves.
MP Msigwa added that the opposition camp was informed, and had evidence, that the acquired trophies are exported by the same Bryson Baloshingwa to Burundi, Uganda and other countries, where the accused has a well established local network.
He added: “the accused was arrested on June 11, 2012 in connection with criminal case No MUG/IR/1330/2012 … after appearing at Mugumu court his counts and those of the co-accused Kama Yohana Tika were altered and they were charged with leasing firearms, a count which enabled them to be bailed out … but others with no financial muscle were charged with armed robbery.”
Legislator Msigwa cited another incident on July 9, 2012 when Bryson was taken out of custody on a removal order, appeared before the court and was granted bail.
“The official opposition camp urges the government to provide answers of people who are initially accused of poaching appeared in court but were removed without adhering to court procedures, saying this was proof that “we have a corrupt government” which turns away from grand corruption.”
He named one Lazaro, the CCM chairman in Karatu district in Arusha region, who owns a rifle, saying he was “a close ally to the poaching network” and that there are document connecting him to Bryson Baloshingwa.
However, Hon. Msigwa claims caused unprecedented furor in Parliament after the Minister of State ( PMO) responsible of Policy, Coordination and Parliamentary Affairs, William Lukuvi, told the House that MP Msigwa had lied by naming one Lazaro as the Karatu district CCM chairman.
According to Lukuvi, the individual going by that name (Lazaro) was not a CCM chairman at district level in Karatu.
Lukuvi added that on October 12, 2010 seven people were arrested for possessing various trophies – and that one of those people was a councillor on a Chadema ticket.
And Lukuvi’s statement came after opposition chief whip, Tundu Lissu, Singida East (Chadema) had urged Lukuvi to state what lies Msigwa had told in House, citing standing orders.
Msigwa will now appear before the Parliamentary Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Powers now led by retired Brigadier General Hassan Ngwilizi
On his part chairman of the Parliamentary standing Committee for Lands, Natural resources and Environments, James Lembeli told the House that the current level of poaching called for “sufficient allocation of money” to the wildlife department.
Tabling the budget estimates, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Khamis Kagasheki, said THE wildlife sector was critically short manpower.
He asked the House to approve annual estimates of Sh77.249 billion out of which Sh26.665 billion is for salaries, Sh37.871 billion for other charges and Sh12.712 billion for development projects.