THE government has warned villagers living near game reserves to refrain from invading the areas for economic and human activities, to avoid facing legal measures.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism told the National Assembly here that there had been cases where people conducted human activities in national game reserves and other areas contrary to the law and that when they were forcefully evicted they attacked officers with traditional weapons.
The government was responding to a question from Special Seats MP Rhoda Kunchela (CHADEMA) who had wanted to know what the government was doing to end escalating conflicts between villagers and authorities in game reserves.
“The pastoral communities have been living under fear due to beatings from officers manning the reserve areas, leading to injuries and sometimes their animals are confiscated and forced to pay a lot of money in fines contrary to the law. What is the government doing to end the problem?” she asked.
The opposition MP further wanted to know if the government acknowledged the pastoralist community and what action it was taking against wildlife officers who mistreated livestock keepers.
In response, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism said that at different times, pastoralists who invaded reserved areas were being arrested and fined in accordance with the law.
The government said the procedures of arrest and fine was within the law and procedures.
“The officers perform their duties in accordance with the law and the government frequently reminds them to follow the law while making arrests and handing them over to the relevant authorities,” said the statement.
It further stated that despite following the law during arrests, there were several cases whereby pastoralists attacked officers, injuring them or causing deaths.
“Those found to have violated laws and regulations governing the national reserves are always punished in accordance with the law and procedures,” said the ministry.
The ministry gave an example, whereby on September 9, 2018 a wildlife officer at the Ruaha National Park was killed while on duty at the Nyota station by pastoralists who invaded to retrieve their animals that had been confiscated.
A similar experience, according to the government, was witnessed on July 3, 2016, whereby an officer was killed by pastoralists at the Ikoga station, who had been attempting to recover confiscated animals.