In recent years we were facing a declining population of rhinos and elephants due to poaching. However, there seems to be a glimmer of hope on the horizon as the animal populations are beginning to recover thanks to a crackdown on poaching by the Tanzanian Government.
Sky News has reported that the Tanzanian Government initiated the crackdown back in 2016, wanting to dissolve the criminal networks that authorities recognized to be practicing industrial-scale poaching.
#DidYouKnow a total of 290,000 wildlife trophies were exported globally between 2008 & 2017? Little money generated through the 'sport' goes into conservation despite its threat to wildlife populations.
— Born Free Foundation (@BornFreeFDN) July 9, 2019
Sky News obtained a statement that read, “As a result of the work of a special task force launched in 2016 to fight wildlife poaching, elephant populations have increased from 43,330 in 2014 to over 60,000 presently.”
Elephants have been widely poached for their ivory, which is expensive and is a highly sought after material on the black market – particularly in China. According to the WWF, ivory is used to in carving decorative ornaments and jewelry. Ivory is still widely sold on the black market, despite the fact that in 1989 it was officially banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Tanzania convicts Chinese ‘Ivory Queen’ for trafficking hundreds of #elephant tusks who is now facing up to 30 years in prison https://t.co/a8wZ08iMdc via @SCMPNews#SeriousAboutWildlifeCrime pic.twitter.com/AI9hgEHuCc
— CITES (@CITES) February 19, 2019
One of the Tanzanian Government’s biggest successes with the poaching crackdown, was the arrest of Chinese businesswoman Yang Fenglan who’s been dubbed the “Ivory Queen.” According to the BBC, Fenglan was accused by the Tanzanian Government of operating one of the largest ivory-smuggling rings on the African continent. It’s alleged that she’s responsible for smuggling an estimated 400 Elephant tusks – which would be worth about $2.5 million.
While the news is good for elephant populations, the rhinos may not be having as much luck – but there is still some improvement for the species as well.
The estimated population of black rhino left in the wild today is around only 5,000 which is a far cry from the 65,000 in the 1970s… whilst numbers are slowly rising at least 3 rhinos are still killed each day for their precious horn, the maths don’t look good…#stopthekilling pic.twitter.com/8p9RM7cRMU
— Richard Symonds (@richwildart) April 7, 2019
Save The Rhino has said that the rhino is poached for its horn – something that is used as an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, as the horn is seen to be a symbol of wealth because of its scarcity and the price it gets. The CITES ban on international trading of rhino horns goes back to 1977, although there have been calls by numerous nations to lift it over the recent years.
According to the Independent, the Tanzanian government has claimed that the rhino population has increased from 15 in 2015 to 167 present day. However, there is a dispute to these figures as CITES estimated the population to be 133 in 2015, not 15.
Regardless, while it might sound like good news at first, experts are warning that there is still a long ways to go in terms of protecting wildlife.
Jones cautioned, “This sounds like very good news but we should view these figures with caution until there’s independent verification – there’s no way that has occurred through breeding and protection alone…elephants are intelligent — they move across national borders to where they are safer, so if there’s been a clampdown on poaching in Tanzania, it may be that some have moved in.”
What are your thoughts regarding the Tanzanian Government’s efforts in ending poaching? Do you agree that there needs to be more done? Let us know!
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.