At Lake Manze Camp, significant numbers of elephant pass through the camp daily – almost as if they feel safe there. See this film which shows a mother elephant confident enough to allow her baby to suckle right beside the dining room where guests were having lunch.
Laygos, a frequent visitor checking out the staff quarters at Lake Manze camp - the doum palms are a favourite target, the fruit being much loved by elephants
Elephants at Lake Manze
These photos of elephants in camp were taken by guide Zachariah Mligo and they show the importance of having visitors to the parks and reserves of Tanzania: to raise awareness, to contribute to revenues that can be used in the fight against poaching, and by providing areas which are safe havens for the animals.
Malcolm Ryen, Chief Ecologist at Essential Destinations who are the owners of Lake Manze Camp in Selous, made an interesting observation that poaching is much less apparent in the northern circuits of Tanzania and he attributed this to the greater number of tourists present in the north, making it harder for poachers to go unnoticed. Tanzania appears to be seeing less visitors each year as a protest against the previous lack of action against poaching, which is actually making it easier for poachers logistically to operate with a free hand all over the country.
Poaching has decimated the elephant populations in Tanzania by 60% over the last 5 years. Trends continue to show an alarming decline in their population in the south. As in the drug trafficking world, the ivory trade in Tanzania has developed itself into an organized syndicate with vast sums of money available for funding.
There is some evidence to show that the trend may be turning, and an end, although hazy, may be in sight.
Recent arrests of ivory traders Yang Feng Lan (dubbed the “Queen of Ivory”) and Boniface Mariango (dubbed “Shetani”, or Devil in Swahili) can be credited as no small achievement to the Transnational Serious Crimes Unit, supported by the PAMS foundation (http://pamsfoundationtanzania.org/ ). They claim that poaching will be brought under control within the next five years. These claims are supported by a large number of arrests and seizures of large consignments of ivory. For more information please see: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/tanzania-confident-of/2392810.html
Involvement of newly elected President of Tanzania John Magufuli may offer hope of a positive outcome. In the few months he has been in power he has been called an inspiration to African leaders in his move against corruption, and with his visions for self sustainability. In his inaugural address on 20th November 2015: “…there has been poaching in which the responsible ministry must be involved, for it is not possible for ivory of such large amounts from our country to be seized in other countries without the knowledge of our local officials…”. Eliminating the tentacles poaching has developed is an important step towards curbing the trend.
The Southern Tanzania Elephant Program (STEP) have an interesting view – see http://www.stzelephants.org/census-results-ruaha-rungwa/
Whatever conclusion we reach, there is no doubt that the gentle giants need all the help they can get from all of us.
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