Eight poachers were caught red handed with buffalo meat in the Akagera National
Park located in the eastern province of Rwanda in September . This was during the usual park controls by the Rwanda Office of Tourisms and National Parks (ORTPN).
One of the poachers was a Tanzanian national the other four who were with him escaped near Lake Shakani. Poaching hurts tourism and needs to be combated in association with the wild life authorities and tourism bodies of the five East Africa Community countries. Akagera National park borders Tanzania as are many other parks in the EAC countries that are across borders .The vision of the EAC is to promote local tourism among national engage in joint tourism promotions internationally as a regional bloc.
When animals are killed by poachers, it dwindles numbers variety and appeal for the treasured national parks, flora and fauna. Poaching is also hazardous when those involved torch parts of a park in order to divert the attention of the part authorities on patrol.
On August 21, four ORTPN game rangers sustained severe burns due to fires ignited by poachers three of whom have died .Poaching should be handled and pursued as a regional issue. Just as police in the region share information on criminals the tourism authorities should share information on how best to curb this menace before revenue is lost to other competitive destinations in Africa.
A couple of years back suspected Interahamwe militia based in the Democratic Republic of Congo killed tourists in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Ugandaâ€™s south Western region . This set Uganda back as visitors trekking the endangered mountain gorillas were considerably decimated. It took a major publicity campaign and security effort to normalize the situation after many years.
Prevention is better than cure and Kenya with more experience in the tourism sector could lend to handle to the other countries in the EAC on how to combat poaching which is another form of terrorism towards animals some of which are facing extinction like the mountain gorillas. Poaching in one country does have adverse effects of another country because when tourists visit their options of cross border safaris are narrowed. When tourists visit East Africa they want to experience an adventurous circuit throughout the region in order to get value for money .At the end of the day, we are all winners
By Fred R. Bukenya