Iconic African animals including elephants and rhinos have long been targeted by organized criminal networks that are feeding an insatiable demand for ivory and rhino horn in Asian countries. But strategic anti-poaching government action may just be key to tackling the problem.
In Tanzania, for example, elephant and rhino populations have begun to rebound after a government crackdown dismantled organized criminal networks involved in industrial-scale poaching. The number of endangered rhinos in the country had increased from just 15 to 167 over the past four years. While elephant populations have risen by nearly half in just five years, thanks to a blitz on illegal ivory hunters.
The success is primarily credited to a range of government actions initiated by the country’s president John Magufuli who took a hard line on wildlife crime when he took office in 2015, urging security forces to arrest all those involved in trafficking.