Poaching in Tanzania is threatening to undermine the East African nation’s growing tourism economy, one otherwise poised to add hundreds of thousands of jobs in the coming years.
Dr. Adelhelm Meru, permanent secretary of Tanzania’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, warns that poaching could affect as many as 3.8 million tourism-sector jobs across Africa, including guides, drivers, and hotel and restaurant staff.
All Africa reports:
Tanzania, like many African nations, has been hard hit by poaching over the past decade. Last year a survey revealed that the country had lost more than half its elephants, with populations declining from 110,000 in 2009 to fewer than 44,000. Tanzania's iconic giraffes, the country's national symbol, have also suffered, as has much of its other wildlife.
While poachers are profiting from these beloved species, tourism could suffer. Meru said Tanzania has 700,000 tourism-related jobs and predicts that number could double, but only if "the ongoing rampant killings of wildlife" stops. "If the current situation will remain unattended, these jobs would vanish in air," he said[.]
To support the people of Tanzania, in June WildAid and African Wildlife Foundation launched a new campaign with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism called "Poaching Steals from Us All," or "Ujangili Unatuumiza Sote" in Swahili. This campaign uses Tanzanian religious leaders and celebrities to raise public awareness of the poaching crisis as well as to instill national pride in one of Tanzania’s greatest natural resources: wildlife.
The campaign will use television, radio, social media, newspapers and magazines, billboards and videos in public spaces in order to reach as many members of the public as possible, including the residents of remote rural villages.
A recent WildAid/AWF survey of over 2,000 Tanzanians in both rural and urban areas found that nearly 80% of respondents said that it would matter a great deal to them if elephants disappeared from Tanzania. Over 73% said that they associated wildlife with their national identity and heritage. (Click here to download a full PDF of the survey report.)
"Poaching of elephants literally is theft from all Tanzanians and from future generations,” WildAid CEO Peter Knights said in June. “We invite all media to participate in the campaign, and we need everyone to help in the fight to stop it.”