Combating Poaching and Illegal Logging in Tanzania: Voices of the Rangers-Hands-on Experiences from the Field

people running the illegal business, providing them with false certificates and overlooking their illegal activities.

In terms of equipment, the rangers in the Lake Zone APU have a shortage of GPS units, push-to-talk radios, compasses, maps, night vision goggles (NVGs), cameras, uniforms, boots and tents. The APU needs are different from those of PWTI in terms of training and equipment, as PWTI’s objective is to train/ educate students, whereas APU personnel often operate in environments that demand better tactical and intelligence skills. “The rangers need tactical patrol training and live-fire exercises; some have not practised shooting on a range since they received basic training several years ago.” 12 The APU’s Deputy Commander says that they are all wildlife officers and that they received medical training during their basic training, but that they now require follow-up training and practice. Throughout East Africa, wildlife rangers lack the training and equipment to give them confidence to confront well-armed and well-trained poachers. A major risk is that encounters end in deadly firefights, often with one side using an ambush, rather than arrests. Proper and further training such as that provided helps improve the tactical skills, ethical understandings and the safety of both officers and suspects, as well as the rights of suspects, and helps ensure higher standards of prisoner handling and care. This is vital not only on ethical grounds, but also for prosecution and maintaining the rule of law and justice. Trophies and bushmeat are usually transported by foot or with bicycles/motorcycles in areas in Western Tanzania, due to the lack of roads. Horses and donkeys are not typically used. Businessmen in Mwanza are running both poaching and illegal logging, contracting managers to run the business in the field. They typically give axes, saws and equipment needed for logging or charcoal production to refugees from Burundi, return to claim the products, and pay the refugees the current rates for the products, subtracting the costs for equipment provided in advance. Then the production goes on. Both individual police commanders/officers and officials in region/province/city management and from the judicial system have been reported to allegedly cooperate with the

Ethnic Arabs from Shinyanga allegedly organize meat poaching in Ugalla Game Reserve (this activity has shifted from the Serengeti), and arrange for the meat to be shipped to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The meat comes from birds (Sandgrouse and Kori Bustard), and different species of antelopes and wildebeest. Chinese companies build roads all over Tanzania, and the Chinese working here allegedly often organize poaching. Normally it is claimed that they hire well-connected people in the cities/villages as intermediaries who in turn hire locals to do the actual poaching, whether it is trophy, meat or wood poaching. The Chinese store illegal articles until they have a large quantity, and then ship it out in containers among machinery and supplies for their road construction activities. Tanzanian officials are easily bribed, and give permission to export the containers.


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