Tanzania reverses decision to lift ban on wildlife exports

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Dar es Salaam (AFP) – Tanzania reversed its decision to lift a controversial ban on wildlife exports on Sunday, a day after the move sparked an outcry in the East African country.

The ban – imposed in 2016 – was in place to protect the country’s protected animals and birds being illegally shipped overseas.

On Saturday however, wildlife authorities announced they would lift the ban for an initial six-month period, from June 6 to December 5, for traders to ‘eliminate animal stocks’ they weren’t. unable to sell under the ban.

But in a quick turnaround, Tourism Minister Pindi Chana reinstated the ban to allow further consultation.

“There was an announcement that allowed the export of wild animals but as responsible minister I immediately stopped that,” she said.

“There will be no export of live animals until we consult further and until the government decides otherwise.”

The decision to lift the ban sparked a backlash online, with many Tanzanians calling for it to be reviewed.

“They say the Maasai are destructive, hence their forced eviction from Ngorongoro! If you ask me: they want the Maasai out of conservation areas so they can capture/export as they please – no prying eyes” , said a user on Twitter.

The indigenous Maasai community live in the Ngorongoro Game Reserve in northern Tanzania but face eviction as authorities say their growing population poses a threat to wildlife in the area.

Conservation group WWF warned on Saturday that easing the ban is unlikely to undo gains made in wildlife protection, amid fears it could trigger poaching which has declined in recent years.

Known for its wildlife-rich national parks and Africa’s tallest mountain, Tanzania is also a tourist draw for its archipelago of sandy Zanzibar beaches and wildlife safaris.

In 2010, at least 116 animals and 16 birds, including some of protected species, were illegally exported from Kilimanjaro airport in the north of the country on board a Qatari plane.

They included at least four giraffes, several different types of antelope, hornbills and vultures, according to local media.

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