With over 60 percent of Tanzania’s elephants slaughtered in the last five years, campaign group OKOA Tembo wa Tanzania (Save Tanzania’s Elephants) has decided to publish an open letter to Tanzania’s new President, John Magufuli.
The letter calls on Magufuli to make saving Tanzania’s elephants his legacy — before it’s too late.
“To bring peace to Tanzania’s elephants and her protected areas, and to secure a thriving wildlife tourism industry that benefits all Tanzanians – this can be your legacy,” says the letter, noting that tourism constitutes 14 percent of the economy.
“From 2009 to 2014, Tanzania lost 60,000 elephants. Were that rate of decline to continue, elephants could be gone from Tanzania in less then four years,” says the OKOA Tembo wa Tanzania team.
“Though extinction of elephants in Tanzania may not occur, continued poaching will result in greatly reduced, fragmented populations that may struggle to recover from the long-term effects of poaching, such as the loss of generations-worth of important ecological and social knowledge, and reduced genetic viability,” says OKOA.
In October, the National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit arrested both ‘the devil’ Boniface Matthew Mariango and ‘the queen of ivory‘ Yang Fenglan, two alleged high-level ivory poachers and traffickers.
But OKOA says that while rangers, conservationists, police and intelligence officers continue do their work, the root of the issue is ending the ivory trade ‘once and for all.’
“For this we need action from the president himself, who can demonstrate that Tanzania will not tolerate the continued slaughter of her elephants and restore Tanzania’s image as a respected leader in conservation.”
Last month, Action for Elephants UK sent a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, urging him to ban all trade in ivory in the UK as promised in his party’s election manifestos.
The letter has gone unanswered.