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

Transportation After the trees have been cut and processed as charcoal or sawn into planks, personnel responsible for transportation mainly use roads to transfer the products to the markets. Vehicles, especially lorries, are typically used. Drivers sometimes obtain permits from forest officers, who do not even question where the charcoal or timber was harvested. It is normal to discover a vehicle carrying an amount of charcoal or timber products that differs from the amount written in the permit. The permits should show: 1. The actual amount of cargo 2. Where and when the cargo was obtained 3. The cargo’s destination 4. In the case of timber, it should show species of trees involved and quantity in cubic metres 5. Lorries should be checked at every checkpoint according to the route stated in the permit. The owner of the cargo is obliged to have a valid business licence. In most cases these rules are not followed. It is normal to catch vehicles where the owner of the cargo has none of the required documents. In a few cases, other business people transport timber and charcoal via Lake Victoria to Mwanza city, which has a lot of places on the lakeshore where boats can land vehicles with cargo. As transporting products via water helps business people avoid road inspection, charcoal and timber loads from Maisome Island Forest Reserve are often transported in this way. Drivers make sure that the trans-shipment to land vehicles is done at night, to avoid being seen. Who is in charge? “There are business people involved in the illegal trade of charcoal, timber and even ivory residing in Mwanza. There is a connection between them and some officials in doing this business. Some business people are backed by government officials or political figures.” Destination “Charcoal and timber from Lake Zone is not only shipped to Mwanza but even to Dar es Salaam. Timber sometimes crosses the border to Kenya. Charcoal transported to Dar es Salaam is transported in heavy goods vehicles with closed and sealed containers. The problem with sealed containers for law enforcement is that if a sealed container is opened and nothing illegal is found, the Government has to pay compensation for the disruption. This puts a high threshold

on inspections, making law enforcement officers unwilling to inspect containers unless they have absolute proof of the contents in advance. In western parts of Tanzania on the border with Uganda there are business people who transport charcoal and timber to Uganda from Tanzania. They are business people from Uganda. There were cases at Mutukula via locally established routes along the border.”


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