Tanzania No change of heart on hunting permits
No change of heart on hunting permits
by Lucas Liganga
Dar es Salaam. The government will not review the allocation of hunting permits for both local and foreign tourist companies despite pressure from firms that lost in the bidding done in September last year.
Natural Resources and Tourism minister Ezekiel Maige closed the door on that possibility in the wake of reports that foreign tourist hunting companies that received no allocations under the amended Wildlife Conservation Act 2009 had mounted a charm offensive, through politicians, to pressure the government to order fresh allocations.
In an interview yesterday, Natural Resources and Tourism minister Ezekiel Maige did not mince his words: "Any foreign tourist hunting companies that are using politicians, including Members of Parliament, to pressurise the government to conduct fresh allocation of the hunting blocks are wasting their time."
He was responding to queries from The Citizen following reports that some of the foreign firms had set up a campaign to overturn the legislation that seeks to ensure that indigenous Tanzanians get a chance to be major players in the hunting industry.
The law states that the percentage of foreign-owned companies allocated hunting blocks shall not exceed 15 per cent of the total of the existing hunting companies at any particular time.Applications for the hunting blocks were announced in the media in March 2011, with a June deadline, and the allocations were made public in September 2011.
The allocations were made by the Hunting Block Allocation Advisory Committee embracing wildlife experts from the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, Tanzania National Parks, a representative of the Attorney-General and the College of Wildlife Management in Moshi, Kilimanjaro Region, among others.
"The allocation of the hunting blocks has been done in accordance with the legislation," Mr Maige said. "The foreign companies should have pressurised the MPs not to approve the legislation. But since the legislation is in force, it is too late."
He denied reports that a report submitted to his office had reviewed the allocation of the hunting blocks. He said he had not seen such a report. Those who were aggrieved by the allocations, he said, should appeal to the High Court and not to politicians.In the new dispensation, the minister said, it was not possible for the government to satisfy all hunting companies that had applied for blocks.
The secretary-general of the Tanzania Hunting Operators Association (Tahoa), Mr Abdukadir Luta Mohamed, said 33 local and foreign member companies applied for hunting blocks.
Two indigenous and four foreign-owned companies failed to make the cut. The local companies were Francolin Safaris Ltd and Intercon Adventure Safaris Ltd. The foreign companies included Tanzania Big Game Safari Ltd, Tanzania Safaris and Hunting (2003) Ltd, Foa Adventures Safaris Ltd and Bright Tours and Safaris Ltd.
The law limits the number of foreign companies owning the hunting blocks to less than 15 per cent.
All firms that were locked out and some that were not satisfied with their allocations have appealed to the minister as provided for in the law.
The final government list indicates that a total of 60 hunting companies have been allocated 146 hunting blocks throughout the country. Fifty one indigenous Tanzanian firms won the allocations, with only nine foreign-owned firms getting a share.
With the hunting blocks allocated, according to Mr Mohamed, the major challenge ahead is the marketing of the industry. That market is very competitive due to the international economic crisis and accompanying tourist hunting conventions, he said, and it would not be easy to attract clients. Tahoa will market its activities at the Safari Club International (SCI) 40th Annual Hunters' Convention to be held between February 1 and 4 in Las Vegas in the United States.