Friday, May 13, 2011

The Giraffe: from Tanzanian national symbol to bush meat

By LUCAS LIGANGA in Dar es SalaamPosted Wednesday, April 20 2011 at 17:00

The giraffe, Tanzania's venerated icon and national symbol, has now become an easy target for bush meat poachers. Anti-poachers warn that if the trend is not stopped the long-necked animal will soon be on the brink of extinction.

In Tanzania, Giraffes are exempted from the list of legal hunting game since they are a national symbol and can only be hunted under presidential permit. But of late there has been a growing trend of giraffe poaching, especially in the country’s game controlled areas.

Figures obtained from the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (Tawiri) indicate for instance that a census conducted in 2002 in Selous Game Reserve established that there were 6,712 giraffes, but the number decreased drastically and in 2006 another census counted only 3,163 giraffes.

In the Serengeti, the giraffes "are now easy targets for poachers because the animals have a lot of meat on their bones. Meat [from] one giraffe can be equal to meat that one gets from four elands,” said a game warden that preferred to remain anonymous for anti-poaching security reasons.

He was speaking during an interview with The Citizen newspaper at a gala dinner organised by the Wildlife Conservation Foundation of Tanzania (WCFT) in Dar es Salaam over the weekend. The gala was to raise funds for anti-poaching activities in Tanzania.

The game warden added that two giraffes were killed by poachers early this month at the Ruvu Maasai Game Controlled Area in Simanjiro district, Manyara region.

“Poachers of giraffes are deadly marksmen and we suspect that some of them have a military training background,” he said.

Source: Africa Review

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