Tanzanian authorities said on Thursday that a paramilitary force will be used to protect wildlife and other natural resources in the east African country.
Jumanne Maghembe, the country’s Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, said the paramilitary force will be comprised of all departments and agencies dealing with wildlife, forestry and other natural resources.
He announced the use of the paramilitary force to protect natural resources when he was opening a two-day meeting attended by natural resources officers in Morogoro town, around 170 kilometres west of the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.
Maghembe blamed officials in the ministry for allowing illegal activities and poaching in game reserves and national parks.
The minister also gave examples of illegal activities such as charcoal burning, mining, farming, grazing livestock and logging in protected areas.
Last month the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), the leading global conservation organization, appealed to the government of Tanzania and international community to take urgent measures to protect the remaining elephants in Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve from poaching.
“If the historic trend of industrial scale poaching continues, elephants could disappear from Selous within six years,” said a report by WWF.
The report added that since 1976, Selous has lost an average of 2,500 elephants annually.
In the mid-1970s, nearly 110,000 elephants lived within the boundaries of the Selous World Heritage site. According to a 2014 elephant census, only 15,217 individuals remain in the Selous ecosystem.