Tanzania is joining a new task force designed to curb poaching of endangered species, as well as to reduce the illegal export and trafficking of ivory in the region. The country will be aided in this effort by the United States, the European Union, Germany, China, the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programs (UNDP).

The new coalition is the latest move in a multi-pronged effort to reduce poaching in East Africa, and follows months of increasing efforts by the Tanzanian government to reduce poaching within its borders.

Increased patrols and stricter penalties for poaching have not been enough to end the slaughter, however. According to Tanzania’s Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu, that will require outside help. Nyalandu noted that international partners must make efforts to reduce worldwide demand for ivory and other wildlife products if the government of Tanzania can ever hope to fully eradicate the problem.

Philippe Dongier, a representative of the World Bank, promised that the development partners will provide Tanzania with much-needed resources, including vehicles, communications technology, weapons, and training.

“We will scale up the efforts and call for action against such illegal activities at the international level,” Dongier added.

The Tanzanian government has promised to not only go after poachers, but to issue stern penalties to anyone found to be in possession of illegal wildlife materials.

“Our aim is to ensure the illegal business comes to an end…we want to save the elephants,” Minister Nyalandu said.

A broad coalition of advocacy groups supported by the Tanzanian government is launching a new campaign to end the practice of child marriage in Tanzania.

Even today, nearly 40% of Tanzania’s girls will be married before their 18th birthdays, giving the country one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. Often forced to bear children shortly thereafter (according to the World Bank, Tanzania has the highest adolescent fertility rate in the world, based on birth rates among girls aged 15-19), girls’ health is often jeopardized, and their education is regularly cut short.

The “Child Marriage-Free Zone” campaign aims to end this practice, damaging both to Tanzania’s women and to the country’s overall efforts to move into the modern world. Headed by the Ministry of Community Development, Gender, and Children, the campaign has partnered with the United Nations Population Fund Tanzania (UNFPA), the Graca Machel Trust, the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA), and the Children’s Dignity Forum.

Graca Machel—widow of Nelson Mandela and a longtime advocate for women’s and children’s rights—spoke in Dar es Salaam at the launch of the campaign (on August 26, 2014):


Longtime activist Graca Machel spoke at an event launching the campaign

“We cannot continue with practices that harm children, because it’s against any human value that we stand for…we have to change the thinking that there’s less value in the girl child,” she told attendees.

Machel pointed to Tanzania’s ongoing constitutional review process as an opportunity for the country to update its laws to better protect women. She argues that the new constitution must clearly state the legal age for marriage. Currently, Tanzania has conflicting laws dealing with legal marriage and age of consent, and enforcement is lax.

With government officials, activists, and both national and international rights organizations coming together to support the measure, hopes are high that child marriage in Tanzania will soon become a thing of the past.

Though the latest Ebola outbreak has been centered in West Africa, over 5,000 miles away, Tanzanian officials are taking precautions now to ensure that the country remains free from the virus.

Government officials are ramping up surveillance at all entry points into the country to ensure that the infection never makes its way into Tanzania. They’re simultaneously working to train airport personnel to recognize symptoms and prevent entry of suspected carriers, as well as medical personnel, so that in the unlikely instance that a case is found in Tanzania, treatment can be swift and effective.

Dr. Elias Kwesi, Assistant Director of Disasters and Emergency in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, said: “The training on how to combat Ebola just in case it erupts here has been there even before the disease erupted in the West African countries, and at the moment we will keep on training more and more personnel so as to have enough of them just in case the pandemic erupts in our country.” To date, over 200 medical professionals and eight airport workers have already received special training.

In addition, airports and the major border crossing at Namanga have been outfitted with special equipment to more effectively screen for the infection. Other major border crossings can expect similar specialized equipment to arrive soon.

The government is also directing all referral and regional hospitals to prepare emergency isolation wards now, so that any suspected cases can be effectively contained and treated.

The World Health Organization has certified that Tanzania has had no suspected or confirmed cases of ebola to date.

 

Rhinos Without Borders has undertaken an ambitious wildlife preservation project: a relocation of extremely endangered black rhinoceros and white rhinoceros from areas heavily affected by poaching to areas where poaching is essentially nonexistent.

The campaign is being spearheaded by renowned wildlife photographers and conservationists Dereck and Beverly Joubert. Eventually, the goal is to relocate 100 rhinos from South Africa to neighboring Botswana, where there is virtually no poaching.


 Video from Trevolta fundraising site.

In South Africa last year a record 1004 rhinos were killed; with gestation periods of 16 months or more, and a birthrate of just one baby per several years, poaching numbers this high make it impossible for rhinos to replace their populations.

Rhinos Without Borders estimates that the entire process of capturing and safely moving a rhino from South Africa to Botswana should cost about $45,000/animal. Their initial campaign goal is $500,000, which will cover the cost of moving 10 rhinos, plus fees associated with the fundraising.

Currently being run as a crowdfunding campaign, the initiative has so far raised over $176,000, enough to relocate four rhinos. Donors can opt to receive thank you gifts at various contribution levels, or forgo them in order to devote more resources to the animals. Every donation also enters the donor into a raffle for various small donated prizes.

Rhinos Without Borders plans to begin the relocation process in January 2015. By mid-2015, they hope to have the animals on the ground in Botswana, where they will provide ongoing support and monitoring. Once all the rhinos have been relocated, the focus will shift to community outreach and education; Botswana is already a heavily tourist-based economy, and this initiative has the potential to benefit that sector hugely.

The Tanganyika Law Society (TLS), Tanzania’s legal bar association, is partnering with the Colom Foundation and Nashera Hotels to provide Tanzanian attorneys with advanced training opportunities in the United States.

Flaviana Charles, Vice-President of the TLS, said that the training would help keep Tanzania’s attorneys on the leading edge of international law:

“In order to stay competitive and actively respond to the challenges of rapid globalization in the legal market, TLS has continued to secure training opportunities for its members in the developed legal markets,” Ms. Charles noted.

The Colom Foundation and Nashera Hotels will cover the cost of transportation to and from the United States for the participants, as well as the cost of their accommodations during the months-long course of study. Study will take place at the University of Mississippi School of Law. The University is waiving tuition for the participants.

The program is expected to serve at least 20 Tanzanian attorneys annually, and involves a full semester of study in three different courses. The first exchange students will visit between January and May of 2015.

Participants in the program are expected to share the knowledge they gain abroad with lifelong students back home. Upon their return, they will be required to teach at preselected Tanzanian universities for free for one year.