Game scouts confiscated these fifteen pairs of elephant tusks and this gun from a band of ivory poachers. Notice the rope tied to the tusks. The poachers were carrying the ivory on their backs. Also notice the backpack. The poachers were on a one-day trip, headed back to their vehicle.
Since 2014, Tanzania's National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigations Unit (NTSCIU) has:
-- Arrested 1,306 poachers and traffickers, 250 of whom were in major cities such as Dar, demonstrating that the ring-leaders can be stopped.
-- Confiscated over 350 firearms and 40 vehicles used in ivory poaching.
-- Arrested four major players, including Yang Feng Glan, known as the Ivory Queen, and Boniface Matthew Mariango, known as the Devil.
-- Convicted 84% of those who have been tried, with the rest awaiting trial in custody or turning state’s evidence.
-- Sentenced 51 offenders to 16 years or more.
-- Done all of this with a budget of less than $3 million ("Turning the Tide").
The country Chad has also had success in the ground battle against poachers in the Zakouma National Park, where the strategy has been to recruit younger guards; step up their training; give them better equipment, including better radios; monitor the park year-round, especially during the rainy season; and set up an “informer system” in the local villages (Dymoke).
As of early 2017, the man who has organized the anti-poaching efforts in Zakouma, Labuschagne, has said that the game scouts in Chad are ready to work without him, and he is planning to move on to Tanzania. He says, “If you get the local people to take ownership and believe in the value of a park, then that is the strongest conservation system you can put in place. Even if you leave, even if there’s political turmoil – whatever happens – that management team will go forward” (Nuwer).
The country of Gabon has had similar success. Dan Ashe, the director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), notes that Gabon has turned poaching around “through good old-fashioned boots-on-the-ground and effective enforcement” (McConnell, “The End”).
Of course, Tanzania’s elephant areas are much, much larger than the elephant areas in Chad and Gabon, and thus require more manpower and other, more extensive solutions.