Suspected Giraffe Poacher arraigned in court

The suspect behind the notorious giraffe poaching racket in Babati District and who was arrested last month has been arraigned in court.

Benard Meja is facing charges of illegal hunting in the Burunge Wildlife Management Area within the Babati District of Manyara Region.

Meja was arrested on April 22, 2023 at the Vilima Vitatu Village in the Burunge WMA Precinct with parts of the giraffe he allegedly killed.

The suspect now faces economic sabotage case number 7 of 2023, which was mentioned before the Babato District Resident Magistrate Victor Kimaro.

Presenting the case before the District Magistrate Court, the State Prosecutor Rose Kayumbo read that in the first case the accused faces the charges of illegal possession of government trophies.

And in the second matter, Meja is being accused of illegal hunting of an animal which is the national symbol of Tanzania, the giraffe.

The Prosecutor told the court that the accused committed the crimes on April 21, 2023 in the wilderness managed by the Burunge Wildlife Management Area in Babati.

Benard Meja however has denied the accusations but remains in custody until June 5, 2023 when his case comes up for second hearing.

The other Prosecutor from the Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA), Gertrude Kariongi told the court that the accused still faces other similar charges of illegal hunting and that once they are through with investigations he will again be brought before the court.

The Tanzania Wildlife Management together with the Chem-Chem association, which invests in tourism activities in the Burunge area, has been jointly patrolling the Wildlife Management Area which also features the Kwakuchinja Wildlife Corridor linking Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks.

The Chem-Chem Association Manager, Clever Zulu said the arrest of the suspect and his appearance in court was the outcome of cooperation in patrolling efforts between his firm, the local police and TAWA.

He said they recently also provided special training for rangers working in the Babati District.