Tanzanian elephant and rhino populations have begun recovering after a government crackdown annihilated organised criminal networks involved in extensive poaching.
The country's government released a statement on Tuesday, July 8th, in which the rebounding wildlife numbers were revealed, Reuters reported.
Poachers, many of them Chinese nationals, were caught, arrested and sentenced to imprisonment. Especially noted is the case of the so-called Chinese "ivory queen" who was jailed for 15 years in February for smuggling the tusks of more than 350 elephants to Asia. This marked a major victory for the government.
The presidency said, “As a result of the work of a special task force launched in 2016 to fight wildlife poaching, elephant populations have increased from 43,330 in 2014 to over 60,000 presently.”
Furthermore, the number of rhinos, an endangered species, has risen from just 15 to 167 over the past four years, according to the presidency.
In 2015, the rhino population was estimated at 15, however, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in a document on its website said that Tanzania had 133.
The elephant population in Tanzania had declined from 110,000 in 2009 to little more than 43,000 in 2014, according to a 2015 census, with conservation groups blaming vicious poaching.
Asian countries such as China and Vietnam have led a poaching wave across Africa, with their demand for ivory which is turned into jewels and ornaments.
Tanzania is best known for its wildlife safaris, Indian Ocean beaches and Mount Kilimanjaro, so tourism is the main source of hard currency. Its revenues were $2.5 billion last year, up from $1.9 billion in 2015, the presidency mentioned.