Tuesday 25th February 2014
Saving lions by killing them?
Today, the Xinhua News Agency announced that Alexander Songorwa, Tanzania’s wildlife director, has been sacked. For good measure his assistant was also relieved of duty by the new Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu.
Songorwa was fired as part of the ongoing fallout from the botched antipoaching Operation Tokomeza that saw charges of murder, rape, torture and extortion brought against security forces involved in the operation.
Recently appointed, Songorwa came to our immediate attention when he posted in March 2013 a highly controversial opinion piece in the New York Times entitled “Saving Lions by Killing Them”. Songorwa argued that the USFWS should not include lions on their Endangered Species Act because the cessation of trophy hunting by US citizens would deprive Tanzania of $1,960,000 in annual revenue. He exaggerated this figure by about 350%.
Songorwa also stated that Tanzania had 16,800 lions in the country – a further exaggeration as this is more than all the lions remaining in Africa. And he said that Tanzania had 130,000 elephants – sadly he was again well out of touch.
Songorwa now joins the ranks of many former Tanzanian directors of wildlife – they do not remain in office long. A predecessor, Obeid Mbangwa was sacked in August 2102 following allegations he facilitated the illegal transport of over 100 wild animals to Qatar on a military plane in November 2010 .
Let’s hope that Songorwa’s replacement will be more in touch with the sad state of Tanzania’s wildlife and work diligently to improve the conservation of Tanzania’s national heritage. Meanwhile, newly appointed Minister Nyalandu should be commended for making big changes.
Picture credit : http://nyti.ms/MXYPyZ
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Posted by Chris Macsween at 13:01
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