Saturday, June 7, 2014

Dr.Paula (right)briefing journalists at the press conference from left is Cyril Akko the CEO TATO
Elephant poaching might be an even bigger problem than the East African governments think, a world-renowned wildlife activist has warned.

Dr. Paula Kahumbu, executive director of the Kenya Land Conservation Trust and Wildlife Direct, says the seizure on June 5th of more than 200 elephant tusks in a motor vehicle warehouse in Mombasa was a rude, but necessary awakening for Tanzania and Kenya.

“Look at the official statistics where Kenya says it loses only 365 elephants whereas Tanzania loses 10,000 jumbos a year. To me this is a tip on an iceberg, poaching could be bigger than what we are told” Dr. Kahumbu told media during the EA Premier Karibu Travel Market Tanzania 2014.

The Tanzania Associations of Tour Operators (TATO) owned Karibu TMT, the second largest tourism show in natural resource-rich-continent of Africa after Indaba in South Africa, is registered with the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

The theme of this year’s show taking place at the Heron Recreation Center near Arusha airport is ‘Sustainable Conservation’ which is reflection of TATO’s ‘foreign policy’ existing for the last three decades.

Dr. Kahumbu was invited to Karibu TMT in a bid to share her vast experience on conservation and the campaign against elephant poaching in Kenya with Tanzania tourism stakeholders, mainly TATO members.

TATO has also been focusing on wildlife conservation and security as the area of grave concern apart from its other mainstream roles. 

Dr. Kahumbu told international and local media on Friday that Mombasa seizure does not only exposes the magnitude of the problem, but also this huge haul, following a tipoff to local police authorities, confirms Mombasa’s pivotal role as a transit point for smuggling ivory out of Africa.

“The photographs show some gigantic tusks, undoubtedly from Kenya’s greatest tuskers. One enormous tusk in particular stood out; it can surely be linked to an individual elephant” she noted.

These can only have come from killing fields in Kenya’s flagship National Parks, like Tsavo, Marsabit, Samburu and Masai Mara, Dr. Kahumbu said, adding that the last refuges for these magnificent animals are no longer safe havens, and are under siege by increasingly well-armed and equipped poachers.
Lately, TATO has been in the forefront of lots of conservation initiatives, specifically the provision of education and leading relevant discussion forums on sustainable conservation and wildlife security of which the Karibu TMT has also acted as one of the forums.

Karibu TMT which took off on Friday also will include among others:  Music Concert with Tanzanian poet and storyteller Mrisho Mpoto presenting his hit song ‘Deni La Hisani’ (A Debt of Courtesy), a public call to action to end poaching in Tanzania – today (Sunday), 8th June.

Chairperson of the Karibu TMT organizing committee, Vesna Glamocanin Tibaijuka says that Dr. Kahumbu was invited to share her valuable experience on a Community based conservation where she has been successful in projects of mitigating human-wildlife conflict in East Africa.

“More importantly:  there will be a launch of TATO anti-poaching Song as well as Children and Conservation where educational short DVDs Nature for Kids will be introduced at the kids corner” Mrs Tibaijuka noted.

This year’s fair attracted more than 8000 visitors from EAC partner states, South Africa, China, the US, and Europe.

In fact, Karibu TMT has become ‘the place to meet’ for the region’s travel industry partners with others from around the world.

TATO Chairman, Willy Chambullo said that should the current generation fail in battle against poaching the next generation will have no elephant to show.

“We need to join hands together to rescue elephants from being decimated by poachers. We need these animals to remain for the future generations to appreciate like our ancestors did for us” Mr Chambullo explained.


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