August 18, 2011

Government bans animal export

As MPs continued to pressure the government to return the 132 live animals and birds that were smuggled out of the country in 2010, the government has announced a one-year ban on licences for export of live animals. Announcing the ban, Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda said measures would be taken to plug loopholes being used to export animals illegally. In a related development, Natural Resources and Tourism minister Ezekiel Maige suspended the Director of Wildlife, Mr Obeid Mbangwa, to pave the way for investigations into the smuggling out of the country of 116 and 16 live animals and birds, respectively. The minister told Parliament that two other senior wildlife officials had also been suspended. He did not name them on the grounds that doing so would interfere with investigations. Winding up the debate on his ministry’s Sh57.8 billion budget proposals, Mr Maige said Mr Mbangwa and the two officials had been sent on paid leave pending completion of investigations.

Government sources told The Citizen that there were 180 firms licensed to export live animals. The ban followed revelations that 116 live animals, including four giraffes, were smuggled out of the country on November 24 2010 aboard a Qatari cargo plane through Kilimanjaro International Airport. Mr Pinda told the august House during the PM’s questions and answers session that a review would be made on the type of animals to be allowed for export, export procedures to be followed and rates to be paid by exporters.

Other measures taken to check the smuggling out of live animals are the strengthening of cooperation between the ministry and the Police Force and bolstering of the ministry’s intelligence unit. Mr Maige said the ministry had also strengthened the northern zone anti-poaching unit by providing it with state-of-the-art patrol facilities. (The Citizen)

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