The Tanzania Times
Eastern Africa News Network

Drop your Guns! Wildlife Massacres are now executed by poachers wielding Machetes

Two illegal hunters armed with a pair of machetes can annihilate over 50 antelopes within just one night. It has been discovered.

The analogue broad blade knives and snares now seem to be more dangerous to wildlife than firearms.

The Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA) is reporting that poachers are now turning to axes, huge knives, swords and machetes as they embark into night sprees of illegal hunting escapades.

With abundant supplies  of motorcycles, thanks to influx of cheap imports from China, poachers and illegal harvesters of natural resources are also well catered for when it comes to fast and light gateway vehicles.

Conservation Officer Tryphone Richard Kanoni from the Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority’s Investigation Section, explains here that poachers have stopped using guns because firearms make a lot of noise that attract rangers and other patrolling squads to the scenes of crime.

“But with machetes everything is accomplished in silence,” pointed out Kanoni while making a presentation on the role of TAWA in combating wildlife crime during the second tailor-made media training classes organized through Journalist’ Environmental Association of Tanzania (JET) in association with USAID Tuhifadhi Maliasili activity.

The Wildlife Management Authority investigator explained that new age poachers usually work during the night under the cover of darkness.

“They first shine very bright torches to blind wildlife that become stupefied in the process, then the culprits move in to chop off the hind legs of mostly ungulates using machetes to immobilize the animals,” said Kanoni.

Afterwards, according to the TAWA investigator, the poachers then attack those animals using the same machetes, chopping them into pieces before speeding off with the carcasses on motorcycles.

For larger, scarier and more ferocious animals, such as elephants, the culprits use poison.

He said machetes annihilate more wildlife than firearms can possibly do.

Other than machetes, snares are also reported to be doing horrid jobs in the torturous killing of wildlife species.

“Guns, in addition to being noisy, are also expensive and cumbersome to both own and carry around, unlike machetes that can be bought from any retail outlet and taken anywhere or everywhere without arousing suspicion,” added Kanoni.

“These types of wildlife crimes usually occur in protected areas that are mapped within plains or flat landscapes where poachers can easily get away using the available means of transport such as bicycles and motorcycles,” he said.

“These styles of poaching cases are notorious in places like Maswa, Serengeti, Grumeti and Ikorongo,” he listed.

On his part, the facilitator from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Dar-es-Salaam (UDSM) Abdallah Katunzi said the media has an important role to play in combating wildlife crime in Tanzania though setting agendas.

“The media in Tanzania is currently failing to be on the frontline in advocating for people and human rights, wildlife and natural conservation or even putting the government to task,” pointed out Mr Katunzi.

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