U.S. Ivory Ban ‘Assures More Elephants Are Killed’

During a visit to Dallas, Tanzania’s top wildlife official told the Dallas Morning News that the U.S. ban on importing ivory would not curb illicit trafficking. Instead, the move “benefits the poachers. It only assures that more elephants will get killed.”

Lazaro Nyalandu, minister of Tanzania Natural Resources and Tourism, was in Dallas for an Aug. 7 meeting with Dallas Safari Club and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Topics included the African nation’s efforts to slow poaching. The group exchanged ideas on ways to stop illegal activities and conserve species such as elephants, rhinos and lions. But law enforcement is expensive. The U.S. ban translates to drastic cuts in revenue from licensed, regulated, sustainable hunting. Reduced funding means less law enforcement in wildlife areas.

DSC offered to help fund additional game wardens, training and equipment in Tanzania. The club currently grants more than $1 million annually for wildlife conservation causes worldwide.

“We have criticized the ivory ban as a setback for conservation,” said Ben Carter, DSC executive director, “but the mainstream media is often quick to dismiss the opinions and expertise of hunters, as if our only knowledge of wildlife is how to hunt it. Like everyone else, we want these species to thrive. So it’s good to see Minister Nyalandu’s words gaining traction in the news – and hopefully in the minds of all thinking people who share our concerns about poaching.”

Read the Dallas Morning News article here.

Nyalandu and his colleagues had just attended the Aug. 4 U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington D.C. to discuss the concerns behind President Obama’s “National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking.” The document identifies three priorities: 1.) Strengthening law enforcement, 2.) Reducing demand, and 3.) Building international cooperation and partnerships. For 2014, Obama pledged more than $60 million to support these efforts.

But Tanzanian officials say no funding from the U.S. government has been received so far, and that licensed, regulated, sustainable hunting is a reliable source of conservation funding.

Nyalandu recently revoked all hunting concessions and licenses issued to Green Mile Safari Co. following evidence of egregious ethical and legal violations. DSC urged and praised the move.

Also representing Tanzania at the DSC meeting were Dr. Freddy Manongi, Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority; Dr. Simon Mduma, Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute; Ms. Devotha Mdachi, Tanzania Tourism Board; Pascal Shelutete, Tanzania National Parks; and Imani Nkuwi, chief of staff for Nyalandu.

Joining Carter on behalf of DSC were Chris Hudson, president, and several DSC members. Also attending were Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials as well as staff members of Sen. John Cornyn and Congressman Pete Sessions.