In a bid to combat poaching in the country, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism has announced the establishment of a paramilitary force system that will directly protect animals from being attacked and killed by poachers.
The ministry's Permanent Secretary (PS), Major Gen. Gaudence Milanzi, said on Thursday evening that the government is prepared to stop poaching and that the new strategy is set to end the problem once and for all.
Major Gen. Milanzi was speaking on his ministry's performance in a period of one year during an interview on a local TV station. He said members of the paramilitary unit will receive tough military training and will be equipped with modern weapons to face and fight poachers.
"We are going to establish a special unit that will be able to face poachers, these will be following military system and they will be equipped with modern weapons," he said. According to the PS, the new unit is expected to directly face poachers on the ground.
"We are looking forward to improving officials' working environment including their benefits, this will also improve their performance," he said.
However, the PS said so far the situation is improving and a number of poachers have been arrested. He said the tourism sector contributes 17.5 per cent to the GDP and thus the government is forced to apply all means to protect the sector.
"This is one of the very important sectors for the country's economic growth, we are therefore supposed to do everything in our powers to protect the sector so that it could continue attracting more tourists in the country," he said.
He said the number of elephants is increasing in some areas except in Selous game reserve. However, he said his office is making sure the number is not going down anymore. "We had a serious problem in Selous game reserve, the number of elephants dropped from 100,000 to around 40,000.
At the moment we have managed to control the situation," he noted.
He said his office is continuing to resolve some of challenges, which include invasion of pastoralists to the reserved areas and grazing animals in the hunting blocks. "I am asking my fellow Tanzanians to understand what we are doing, politicians must stop politicising issues related to the protection of our game reserves by shielding some pastoralists who invade reserved areas," he noted.
On seized tusks, the PS said the government neither plans to sell them nor destroy them. On tourism, Major Gen. Milanzi said his office is doing everything in its power to promote tourism in the country. He said the ministry is also focusing at promoting beach, conference and culture tourism.
"We are now venturing on the other side in order to attract more tourists, we are now promoting our beaches, culture as well as conference tourism, our aim is to increase the number of tourists who come to our country from 1.1 million to a bigger number," he said.
He added that his office is also promoting other parts of the country so that tourists could visit them. So far 80 per cent of tourists visit Northern regions of Tanzania. The ministry is also preparing special advertisement that will be aired on both international and local media outlets. Major Gen. Milanzi said CNN and BBC are among international TV stations that air Tanzania tourism adverts.
Recently, Tanzania aired tourism adverts in London during the World Tourism Forum (WTF). He added that those who advertise that Mt Kilimanjaro belongs to them instead of telling the truth that it is in Tanzania will not affect tourism business in the country anymore, since the ministry has already designed an advert that clearly states why tourists must come to Tanzania to climb Mt Kilimanjaro.
"Our advert tells that you can see Mt Kilimanjaro from any angle, but you can only climb Mt Kilimanjaro from its home, which is Tanzania," he noted. On the revival of Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL), the PS said the company is expected to promote tourism in the country by flying tourists to various destinations across the country. He said there will be advertisement and various articles will be published in newsletters and magazines that are found onboard ATCL's bombardier planes.
On Value-Added Tax (VAT) on tourism, Major Gen. Milanzi said so far there is no negative impact from the government decisions.
He said the Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa) statistics and Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) show that the number of tourists has been increasing.