TANZANIA - Elephant and rhino populations in Tanzania have started to rise again following a government crackdown on organised criminal networks involved in industrial-scale poaching.

Recent examples of the country’s get-tough policy included a prominent Chinese businesswoman dubbed the “Ivory Queen” being jailed for 15 years in February for smuggling the tusks of more than 350 elephants to Asia. A government statement said: “As a result of the work of a special task force launched in 2016 to fight wildlife poaching, elephant populations have increased from 43,330 in 2014 to over 60,000 presently.” The number of rhinos - an endangered species - had increased from just 15 to 167 over the past four years, it said. Although the presidency put the rhino population at 15 four years ago, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) estimated that Tanzania had 133 in 2015. The elephant population in Tanzania shrank from 110,000 in 2009 to little more than 43,000 in 2014, according to a 2015 census, with conservation groups blaming rampant poaching. Demand for ivory from Asian countries such as China and Vietnam, where it is used to make jewels and ornaments, has led to a surge in poaching across Africa.