When the Kikwete presidency ends in late 2015 will this president be remembered by the conservation fraternity for but two things: that he presided over the worst elephant slaughter in history, similar only to the mowing down of the great North American herds of bisons and that he directed that the application for UNESCO World Heritage Status for the Eastern Arc Mountains be withdrawn just as the world body was to enscribe the forested mountains in its global list.
Enough has been said about the elephant slaughter, earning this correspondent hate mail and threats from regime sycophants and deniers of poaching, until the opposition in parliament in Dodoma tabled massive poaching figures which the house, left with little choice, accepted. At that time however had the large herds of elephant in the Selous and the Ruaha ecosystems been systematically decimated with only around 13.000 left now in the Selous where only ten years ago nearly 70.000 elephants roamed.
The second issue, also reported here critically at the time the directive came down on the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, earned this correspondent similar name calling, from anti development and anti Tanzanian ‘bloody muzungu’ to worse, for daring to ‘dictate’ to the Tanzanian government how to deal with their own land and their own resources and most notably, the way they run their country.
Now a report by WWF, short for World Wide Fund for Nature, has exposed the bitter truth, namely that some 80 percent of the forests of the Eastern Arc mountains had been cut down for timber exports, local timber use and charcoal making, affirming the suspicions voiced back then that it was indeed the desire to mine and deforest which drove the abortion of the application process for UNESCO WHS recognition.
It is no doubt a bitter pill to swallow for the regime sycophants and mouthpieces but true nevertheless, given the credential of WWF – though as one source put it, having published a report and giving an 80 percent deforestation rate may put them into the firing line for publishing unauthorized data and statistics for which, when the new bills are signed into law, heavy fines and jail terms await the authors of such reports when filed after the effective date.
The report is titled: ‘WWF Living Forests Report 2015 – Saving Forests at Risk’ available from the WWF website.
In a series of articles, culminating in one titled ‘The Corridor of Destruction’ filed almost four years to the day has it repeatedly been pointed out that Machiavellian schemes are at work to wreck the ecosystems from Tanga to Musoma, starting with the planned harbour in the dead centre of the Coelacanth marine national park in Mwambani over the Eastern Arc Mountains to the mud flats of Lake Natron, the only nesting place of the East African flamingo populations to the Serengeti, where the current day government still hangs on to the notion of building a highway across the migration routes of the 1.5 million wildebeest and zebras, which would effectively kill the herds, unable to reach the pastures further north.
The confirmation by WWF over the sad state of affairs of the Eastern Arc Mountains forests is a devastating example of how conservation minded individuals and NGO are bedeviled, foulmouthed and often criminalized for the short lived gains of a few who will benefit until the last trees are cut and the last elephant been shot for its tusks, leaving behind the proverbial burnt earth for their children and grand children.
Perhaps now the sycophants will be silenced, though not much hope is nurtured as they surely find another way to discredit WWF and their research findings, no doubt eying the day when President Kikwete will sign the new bills into law so that they can have conservationists speaking up and speaking out arrested on the charges provided for in the new bills and jailed as a lesson, never to irk the powers that be, or the powers that be hangers on. Quod erat demonstrandum. I rest my case. Perhaps in the future will my articles be taken a bit more seriously when warning of imminent dangers as those I outlined a few years ago.