Tanzania has not harvested a single elephant this hunting season, thanks to a courtesy of the consumptive tourism players, contradicting the report in some section of the local media that 100 jumbos were legally hunted.
The season between July 1, to October, 2017, the elephant quota allotted to Tanzania by Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was 50 elephants but, hunters say, none have been harvested as of October 2017.
Tanzania Hunting Operators Association (TAHOA) and the Tanzania Professional Hunters Association (TPHA) say in their joint statement that the number of elephants harvested between 2010 and 2013 had also decreased, owing to the new provisions on trophy weight and length introduced through the Wildlife Conservation (Tourist Hunting) Regulations, 2010.
In 2010 the quota of jumbos was 200 but 96 harvested, in 2011 the quota was 200 but 45 hunted, in 2012 the quota was 200 but 43 harvested, in 2013 the quota was 200 but 35 hunted, in 2014 the quota was 100 only seven harvested, the statement signed by TAHOA’s Chief Executive Officer, Lathifa Skyes says.
Way back in 2015 the quota was 100, only three were harvested, and in 2016 the quota was 100, but only two were harvested.
This conservative approach to hunting elephants was acknowledged by the European Union who, in August 2016, acknowledged the enormous efforts of the Tanzania Government and the hunting industry to bring the illegal hunting of elephant under control.
This resulted in the EU making a positive finding in four of the six main ecosystems that form the elephant range in Tanzania: specifically: Serengeti, Tarangire-Manyara, Katavi-Rukwa and Selous-Mikumi.
The recommendations recognized that the current CITES quota of 100 elephants represent 0.24 percent of the total population (as shown by the 2014 Great Elephant Census) and 0.20 percent based on the updated 2015 total estimates.
This is a percentage that is less than the 0.3 percent which is the minimum off-take to maintain high level trophy quality.
The umbrella outfits of hunting tourism operators and professional hunters also allayed the government’s fear of revenue generated from the sector declining over the years.
Natural Resources and Tourism minister Hamis Kigwangalla recently said he was shocked to hear the sector generated barely Sh10 billion last year, down from a record Sh60 billion registered in the past.
“I believe in transformation, we’ll put in place a new procedure and change the hunting tourism laws to maximise benefits accrued from the sector,” Dr Kigwangalla told tourism players in Arusha last week.
But the figure from TAHOA and TPHA indicates that the industry in fact generated over Sh40 billion last year, contrary to what was reported in the same quarter of the media.
“The reported information has confused what is permitted in terms of international trade, what is agreed at a national level and what is harvested by the hunting industry,” the statement reads in part.
Tanzania adheres to the CITES and population trends of all animals reported in regular surveys the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) conducts and guides the Wildlife Division in overseeing the sector.
The Wildlife Division has strictly been controlling the permissible tradable quota of 100 elephants,” the statement says.
In 2014, TAHOA recommended the national quota be reduced from 200 to 100, and again in August 2017 the organisation further recommended it be reduced from 100 to 50 elephants.
This was made following the results of national surveys showing the elephant populations were under pressure from the recent heavy ivory poaching.
The decrease was also compounded by the US Fish and Wildlife Services suspending import of elephant trophies from Tanzania, as 70 per cent of Tanzania’s hunting market is from the world’s second economy.
The organisations’ statement says that Section 27(1) of the 2015 Hunting Regulations prohibit hunters from hunting a lion aged below six years with sub-Section explaining a penalty awaiting defaulters.
“TAHOA and TPHA strongly support these stringent guidelines implemented by TAWA wildlife division to ensure the national lions population continues to improve,” the statement says.
Professional hunters have since the application of the Tourist Hunting Regulations of 2010 and the adoption of the six-year-age limit been diligent in avoiding to harvest under-aged lions.
As a result, the proportion of harvested males aged above six years has exponentially increased from 10.6 percent to 88.2 percent while the proportion of harvested males aged below 4 years has decreased from 22.4 percent to 5.9 percent.
All operators wishing to hunt elephants apply for individual permits provided the trophy meets a minimum standard defined in Section 26(4) of the 2015 Hunting Regulations.
“Without prejudice to sub-regulation (1), a person shall hunt an elephant whose one of the tusks weighs 20 kilograms and above or measures 160 centimetre and above,” the section reads.
A professional hunter guiding a client to hunt an elephant in contravention of this sub-regulation commits an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine stipulated under regulation 27(2).
According to the section, a fine of $2,500 or imprisonment for a term not less than six months for the first offence or a fine of $5,000 and or imprisonment for not less than one year for the second time of an offence are meted out.
In case one commits the offense for the third, a fine of $10,000 or imprisonment of not less than one year and cancellation of the Professional Hunters’ license are meted out.