By Edward Qorro, The Daily News
Five more canine dogs are set to be deployed at the Julius Nyerere International Airport’s (JNIA) terminal 3 to stop poachers and traffickers in their tracks.
The sniffer dogs are part of 12 canines that had undergone a nine-week rigorous training together with their handlers at the Canine Specialist Services International (CSSI) at USA River area in Arusha.
Another three detection dogs will be dispatched to Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) and Songwe Airport in Mbeya, while the remaining four will be flown to Yaounde Nsimalen International Airport in Cameroon for a similar mission.
Speaking here on the sidelines of a Tanzania and Cameroon Conservation Canine Unites Graduation on Monday, African Wildlife Foundation’s (AWF) Vice-President for Species Protection, Dr Philip Muruthi, called for more vigilance in replenishing the number of endangered species on the continent.
“The elephant population is slightly bouncing back in some East African countries, but there is more to be done in curbing poaching,” advised the AWF official. According to Dr Muruthi, Tanzania was once among the ‘gang of eight’, alongside Kenya, Uganda, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand and China with the highest number of wildlife crime rates, but that has since gone down, thanks to intensified efforts of curbing the vice.
“Wildlife criminals are ever evolving, using sophisticated means in executing their missions, we shouldn’t be sleeping on our jobs as criminals aren’t,” he challenged.
The AWF’s Vice-President for Species Protection further reserved praise for Tanzania for handling well poaching related cases, noting that poaching culprits are arrested and convicted unlike in other East African countries. “It’s a bit complicated in Kenya and Uganda and the culprits walk scot-free upon paying fines.”
He further commended Tanzania for being a leader in conservation, revealing that one third of the global lions’ population from the East African nation. Earlier on, CSSI Managing Director, Mr Will Powell described the training as an anti-poaching strategy that seeks to deter poachers from visiting and wreaking havoc into protected areas.