Tanzania's anti-poaching crusade received a boost on Sunday when the Chinese government donated 50 special vehicles worth 1.3 million U.S. dollars for patrolling in the East African nation's parks and game reserves.
Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania Lu Youqing handed over the vehicles to the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu, in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.
"We thank the Chinese government for this crucial support that will boost anti-poaching in our national parks and game reserves," Nyalandu said shortly after receiving 15 double cabins, 30 all- terrain vehicles and five command vehicles.
The Chinese government also donated 100 mountaineering jackets, 130 tents, 50 patrol generator sets and 50 interphones.
Nyalandu said the vehicles and other facilities will be distributed to national parks and game reserves across the country.
The minister said the vehicles were fitted with technological facilities such as global positioning systems (GPS) that would provide signal to rapid response units to intervene in areas that were suspected to have been invaded by poachers.
"We should protect our resources and not let poachers take advantage of this election season as leaders are busy in constituencies in preparation for the general election," said Nyalandu, in reference to the country's general elections to be held on October 25.
The Chinese support came days after a Chinese delegation visited Tanzania to enhance cooperation between the two countries and share experience in management of natural resources, including wildlife.
Lu said Tanzania needed support in protecting wildlife and fighting poaching.
The Chinese envoy said for the past three years, China had extended support amounting to 30 million U.S. dollars for wildlife protection in Tanzania.
In June, the government of Tanzania released an elephant population estimate from a country-wide aerial survey which showed that the elephant population has declined by 60 percent since 2009.
A 2014 elephant census showed that the country has a total elephant population of 43,521, compared to the 2009 census where there were 109,051 elephants in the East African nation.