Tanzanian authorities in campaign against bush meat to curb poaching

Bush meat on sale in the market Photo courtesy-Alexandra Mannerings

Authorities in northern Tanzania have embarked on a campaign against bush meat business aimed at addressing poaching in the East African nation’s sanctuaries.

Joel Bendera, Manyara Regional Commissioner said on Sunday that the campaign involved all people, including those living close to game reserves and national parks.

“We want to see Tanzania’s natural resources are protected at any cost, so we are discouraging people from buying and eating bush meat because, in the fight against poaching, we came to realize that the business contributes a lot to the reckless killings of large mammals,” he said.

He added: “This is another approach that will help to address poaching, which has been threatening the country’s wildlife sector.”

Among other issues involved in the campaign, according to the official, include awareness creation on dangers accompanied by poaching to the wildlife and the country’s economy. Poachers pretend to target small animals and birds like dik-dik, duikers, hare and guinea fowl, but they also kill warthogs, wildebeest, zebras, buffaloes, hippopotamus and even elephants.

“That’s why we’re discouraging this business,” Bendera said.

“We believe that if people refuse to buy and eat bush meat, poachers would be nowhere to sell; hence they’ll abandon the business,” he said, calling on local government authorities to team up in the campaign against bush meat, by unveiling names of people who are behind the business.

Nicolaus Negri, a wildlife conservator and tour operator who works with Burunge Wildlife Management Area (WMA), said the endless campaign intends to change people’s mindsets on bush meat, which is one of the drivers of poaching.

Burunge WMA is the main link between Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Park, which of recent faces serious threat from bush meat business.

Conservationists estimate that up to 50 percent of Tanzania’s total wildlife population has already been decimated for bush meat, which apart from being consumed locally is also reportedly exported to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, war-torn Somalia, Burundi, Sudan and other neighboring countries.