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Renowned conservationist and a man behind Tanzania-France ties dies at 94

Renowned conservationist and a man behind Tanzania-France ties dies at 94
Tanzania mourns the passing of Gérard Pasanisi

Gérard Pasanisi, a renowned French national who devoted his entire life to foster tourism development and wildlife conservation in the country as well as diplomatic ties between Tanzania and France, has died at 94.

Mr Pasanisi, who came into Tanzania 1967 with love of tourism and wildlife conservation, passed away peacefully on August 13, 2020, after a short illness. He would be buried on August 18 at Nice, a seaport city in Southeastern France.

The man, who spent 40 years in Tanzania, is credited to have poured his energy into nurturing the current multi-billion-tourism industry, and spearheading wildlife conservation, particularly in the Southern circuit, soon after independence.

Mr Pasanisi was the founder of the Mount Kilimanjaro Safari Club (MKSC), one of the country’s successful tour companies at the moment with its base in northern safari capital, Arusha.

“We have lost a man who poured his soul in developing tourism and wildlife conservation in Tanzania. We will remember him as a person whose initiatives in the tourism industry had created job opportunities for the poor communities” said the MKSC Director, Mr George Ole Meing’arrai.

Indeed, MKSC is a pioneer tour company operating in Tanzania’s soil to roll out the first 100 percent electric safaris car (e-car) in the East African region two years ago, in its initiative to bring down vehicular pollution within the national parks.

The pioneer e-car operating in Serengeti, Tanzania’s flagship national park is a carbon free technology, reliable and comfortable vehicle solely depending on solar panels to reel its engine.

“His legacy goes beyond tourism and conservation. He also touched lives of many through the corporate social responsibility, the spirit that drives our company” Mr Meing’arrai said.

Hopefully, the history will also do justice to Mr Pasanisi as a man who significantly shaped the diplomatic relationship between Tanzania and France.

In 1974, the then Natural Resources and Tourism Minister, Skeikh Hasnu Makame designated Mr Pasanisi as a representative of Tanzania Tourist Corporation in France, Italy and Benelux, the position he held for 20 years consecutively.

Records indicate that during his 20-years stint, he organised and financed numerous study tours and visits of various Ministers of tourism, including the third-phase regime’s Prime Minister, Fredrick Sumaye, in France.

In 1976, Mr Pasanisi appointed by the then Foreign Affairs Minister, Benjamin Mkapa to spearhead a mission in restoring the diplomatic tie between France and Tanzania, the assignment he did successfully.

In 1978, just two years after having reinstated the diplomatic relationship, Mr Pasanisi had successfully managed to mobilize funds for Tanzania to build the new airport in Dar es Salaam.

For many, there is no doubt that his various endeavors, particularly the support he obtained from the French Ministry of Defense in favor of the anti-poaching drive, deepened the links between Tanzania and France.

In 1985, when numerous roads were opened in the Selous Game Reserve (50.000 Km2) due to the Geo-source lorries prospecting for petroleum, intensive elephants poaching increased dramatically.

In 1988, on the request of the Wildlife division Mr. Pasanisi, interceded with Mr. Brice Lalonde, French Minister of Environment, as France presided the European Union.

As a result, during the CITES Conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, ivory trade was banned and he ensured the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism also outlawed bush meat in every lodges and restaurants in Tanzania.

In 1993, Mr Pasanisi was designated Honorary Consul of Tanzania in France. He was also Chairman of Tanzania Hunting Operators Association (TAHOA).

Way back in 2007, Tanzania saw an upsurge of elephants poaching, reaching a deadly proportion in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively, prompting Mr, Pasanisi to form the Wildlife Conservation Foundation of Tanzania (WCFT).
Through the WCFT he founded with late President Benjamin Mkapa in partnership with former France President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, more than 25 four wheel drive vehicles, fully equipped, were donated to the Wildlife division, last year alone.

“Mr Pasanisi devoted his life to fight so many battles for this Country, where his soul will never leave” noted Mr Meing’arrai.


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Adam Ihucha - eTN Tanzania

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