“At independence Tanzania had 350,000 elephants… in 1987 there were only 55,000 elephants left.”
That’s the dire message from the president of Tanzania, who spoke to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour about his country’s battle against wildlife poaching.
President Jakaya Kikwete joined Amanpour in London, where heads of state are meeting to find a solution to end poaching before it’s too late.
“This is madness now, it is just impossible… it’s a serious matter.”
Incidents of poaching are on the rise fueled by a growing demand for ivory and rhino horn in Asia. There are also concerns that poaching is helping to fund violent groups in the region.
When it comes to destroying ivory stockpiles, as countries like the United States and China have done in the past, President Kikwete says his country is considering doing the same thing to show it is an unacceptable trade.
“We have about 112 tonnes of ivory… we used to have the idea of asking permission to sell, but we don’t think, these are not the times”.
It’s not the right time, he says, because it was the relaxation of laws that opened the door to more poaching in the first place.
Gay rights in Tanzania
Another topic dominating headlines is that of gay rights on the African continent.
In Tanzania homosexuality is illegal, punishable with long prison sentences. When asked whether it’s time to stop criminalising people who are in consensual relationships, President Kikwete told Amanpour it will “take time for our people to accept the norms that the west is accepting”.
And when pressed on whether he wants to see that happen, he told Amanpour “I cannot say that now”.
Click above to watch the full interview with President Kikwete.