Dear Journalists and Press,
Thank you for your interest in our involvement in recent events in Tanzania. Due to an overwhelming media interest, and the fact that it is not our place to report on details of law enforcement activities conducted by the Government of Tanzania, we are unable to respond to every enquiry.
Below we have listed some important facts and our background perspective related to the recent arrests of some Chinese nationals that were reported in the media, including Yang Feng Glan (dubbed the ‘Queen of Ivory’) and Li Ling Ling shortly before her.
PAMS Foundation wishes to congratulate and commend the Government’s National & Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit (NTSCIU) for these important arrests, as well as many arrests, weapon and ivory seizures and successful prosecution of hundreds of poachers and illegal ivory traffickers, in particular over the past year.
We believe that the arrest of Yang is hugely significant and that it will prove to be the biggest wildlife crime case in the history of Tanzania, and quite likely the continent. However, it should be seen and recognized in the context that it is one result of many arrests of traffickers and poachers across the country over a period of time. It is not a single or perchance event, but a culmination of a lot of good, diligent work, much investigation and following up.
Thanks to some excellent intelligence-led law enforcement work implemented by the NTSCIU within a few ecosystems previously (done initially with limited funding), PAMS Foundation were able to secure a significantly large grant which enabled the ‘Special Intelligence Project for Elephant Protection’ to be expanded nationwide since October 2014.
Exceptional results have been achieved by the NTSCIU-led anti-poaching project. This includes the arrest of more than 870 poachers and illegal ivory traders, the seizure of over 300 firearms and 20 motor vehicles used in wildlife crime, and the successful prosecution of more than 240 people engaged in these activities, to date. Sentences for these crimes have included several perpetrators being given prison terms of 20 years and a few of even longer.
In addition to this highly effective project, which is supported solely by ourselves and our partners Askari Maritime Logistics and Team Rokka, PAMS Foundation also wishes to congratulate the Ministry of Natural Resources & Tourism (and the agencies falling under its authority) for all their successes achieved in combatting the illegal wildlife trade. In all the areas where we have been fortunate enough to be able to partner and support their elephant protection work, we can attest to the fact that the Rangers and Game Scouts of the Wildlife Division, 3 District Councils and 6 Wildlife Management Areas have produced very meaningful results. In these projects, which have all employed a largely intelligence-led approach, well over 600 poachers have been arrested, more than 850 firearms have been seized and sentences of up to 10 years imprisonment have been achieved.
As the only NGO which provides anti-poaching support to Tanzania in all the major elephant ecosystems across the country, it is our professional opinion that there has been a dramatic reduction in elephant poaching since November 2014. Thanks to all the results achieved from the combined efforts of the above mentioned Government Authorities and Community Based Organizations whom we do our best to complement and support, we can say with confidence that there is no way the elephant population could have declined during 2015 on a similar scale to what was experienced during the preceding 6 years.
Thank you to all the Government and Community groups who trusted us enough to welcome us as supporting partners in this important battle. Thank you equally to the private funders and partners who believed enough to invest in the projects that we recommended to be effective. Our most recent supporter who stepped forward to help save Tanzania’s elephants is a Chinese national who shares our concerns for elephants and has committed to help through fundraising and awareness raising in China.
The ivory war is still a long way from over, but we have no doubt, the tide is turning!