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


rangers to confront them. Tanzanian law prohibits forest rangers from arming themselves; only specially trained wildlife rangers have permits to carry arms. This means that the forest rangers/ guards do not have the capacity to confront the armed loggers without support from armed wildlife rangers, who are rarely available. Sometimes a handful of unarmed forest rangers are responsible for the protection of vast forest reserves, with limited access to vehicles. This reduces the effectiveness of both wildlife and forest rangers. Since there are very few of these law enforcement professionals relative to the vast areas they are responsible for protecting, illegal logging has become largely unchallenged.

Tanzania has the fifth highest annual loss of forest in theworld, with about 400,000 hectares disappearing every year. Illegal logging accounts for 96 per cent of this figure, according to Tanzanian authorities. Organized criminal actors involved in this activity in Tanzania smuggle thousands of cubic metres of trees every month and drive some species to the brink of local extinction. In a trend similar to the poachers laying waste to African wildlife, armed loggers enter forests at night, cut both protected and non-protected species and transfer profits to highly organized syndicates.

As mentioned previously, the fact that the illegal loggers seem to be very well organized and armed makes it hard for the forest

Confiscated illegally cut wood at zonal forest reserve management headquarters in Tabora


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