Delegates at the Africa Hotel Investment Forum in Nairobi today declared poaching to be the greatest threat to Africa’s tourism industry and branded poachers as Africa’s greatest public enemy.
Lazaro Nyalandu, deputy minister for natural resources & tourism, Tanzania, said in an address to the whole conference: “Poaching is a global problem needing a global solution.”
He added: “It is estimated that Tanzania has an elephant population of 100,000 today but this is cut by 30 a day by poachers.
“They are so sophisticated that we need a military response. If their activities are not stamped out, we will have lost all our elephants in 10-15 years.
“We want to see our African neighbours taking a stand with us, pressurising the countries where the poachers’ clients live to stamp out this barbaric trade.”
The value of ivory and rhino horn continues to rise rapidly, as does the demand for ‘wildlife products’.
Across Africa, one elephant is being killed every 15 minutes for their tusks.
This continued illegal trade will lead to the species’ extinction by 2025.
The hotel and tourism industry’s concern goes well beyond statements.
Some five per cent of all AHIF revenues are being given to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust which looks after orphaned baby elephants and rhinos, including those whose parents have been butchered by poachers, and it has several anti poaching initiatives.
Wildlife is the reason why tourists come to Africa.
As each herd is decimated, so too is the potential employment of thousands of people, most of whom are on low incomes. Poaching is not just about killing animals; it’s about destroying livelihoods.
“Poaching in Africa is happening on an industrial scale,” said Nick van Marken, the leader of Deloitte’s international Travel, Hospitality and Leisure practice.
He continued: “Poachers are using automatic weapons to slaughter entire herds. They then hack off the tusks and horns.
“Rhino horn is ground down in Africa and then smuggled out.
“Wildlife is part of Africa’s natural infrastructure - remove it, and one of the primary reasons for visiting the continent will disappear.
“It’s time for the industry to step up and speak out.”