Only one short week ago the news broke that Tanzania has banned plastic bags from entering the country!
In an official notice issued by the Government of Tanzania, it was announced that from the 1st of June 2019, "all plastic bags will be prohibited from being imported, exported, manufactured, sold, stored, supplied and used in Tanzania." So please make sure you keep this in mind for your upcoming Safari with us OR when you books yours today!
In an aim to tackle pollution but most importantly promote conservation, the Government of Tanzania has implemented special desks which will confiscate any single use plastic bags (regardless of thickness) being brought into the country by tourists. It is extremely important to note that the statement said;
"Plastic or plastic packaging for medical services, industrial products, construction industry, agricultural sector, foodstuff, sanitary and waste management are not prohibited and ... "zip-lock bags " will be permitted."
Whilst not an automatic cure for the issue of single use plastic and pollutants, Tanzania has joined not only many neighbouring countries but also those spread across the world, who are making an effort and leading the way towards sustainability and conservation. Very impressive from a Third World Country if you ask us.
Here in Australia, cries of fury were heard across the individual states and were even reported on world wide. Complaints about impracticality and the cost of plastic bags being 15c were voiced loudly by a small minority. There were claims of our super markets using it as a money-making scheme, threats to no longer shop, as well as apparent abuse both in store and on social media. Despite this, by December last year it was reported that our consumption of plastic bags had reduced by 80%.
Non-biodegradable plastic bags are blamed as one of the biggest contributors to gruesome wildlife deaths. This is a global issue and it is extremely promising to see it being attacked on a global scale. Whilst many of us are doing something individually, to have Bangladesh, China, Netherlands, Israel, Kenya, France, Rwanda, Italy, Morocco, Albania, England, USA, Australia and now Tanzania among 60 other countries, making an effort to reduce or completely ban plastic pollution is an impressive step forward. It is by no means a "cure all" for the impact that we have had and continue to have on the environment and wildlife, though it is important to celebrate every effort no matter how big or small. None of us know exactly what is going to work but it is exciting to see Governments and individuals all over the world, step up and try.
Tanzania is home to the largest animal concentration, per square kilometer in the world. Almost one third of the entire country is dedicated and protected as National Parks, Conservation Areas and Game Reserves. Whilst this is incredibly important to reduce poaching and other wildlife crimes it does not completely protect the many native species from other threats. According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) half of ALL plastic produced is designed to be used just once and then discarded, resulting in mass amounts landing in oceans and littering landscapes. Plastic never fully decomposes. It will of course break into smaller parts, but will never be truly gone from the earths surface.
We are regularly made away of the devastating impact that land-waste (primarily single use plastics) have on our marine life and marine environment. We have all seen that horrific video on social media of the Sea Turtle with a straw stuck in his nose. In terms of the harm it can have on land though, half of all camels that die on the Arabian Peninsula are killed by ingesting plastics and did you know that 8 African Elephants died in Zimbabwe in 2016 after eating plastic bags. Worse than this though, there is no quick death when it comes to plastic. It is long and drawn out and more often than not it occurs from starvation, suffocation, exhaustion, drowning and infections.
You can watch the sea turtle video here. Please note that there is a warning for graphic and upsetting content
Tanzanian WWF Country Director, Dr. Amani Ngusaru has congratulated the Government for stepping up. Calling plastic the "silent killer of our natural environment" he has again dedicated the support of WWF to backing the Government initiatives towards the fight for conservation. (Much like their commitment to collar and monitor Elephants in an attempt to better protect them against poaching.)
"We understand that the control of plastic pollution calls for all stakeholders' participation in raising awareness and making sure that the ban is being effectively observed... our initiatives will also be directed towards raising awareness to the Tanzania community as we believe an educated man is a wealthy man." - Dr. Amani Ngusaru
This idea of education is something we wholeheartedly agree with. After all, it is at the very heart of why our Founder created All Around Tanzania Safaris to begin with. Check out where it all began and keep an eye on our socials for more detail to come on this topic!
The Tanzanian Government "does not intend for visitors to Tanzania to find their stay unpleasant" as the ban is enforced, however does appreciate the cooperation and acceptance of "minor inconveniences" as they continue in their efforts to keep the country clean and beautiful.
We love Tanzania and are so incredibly proud of the efforts they are making. From cracking down on poaching and illegal animal trafficking, to protecting the environment overall providing a safe and healthy landscape. Our All Around Tanzania Safaris can get you up close to the animals so you can see first hand the reason WHY we, the government and locals are so dedicated to protecting them.
Have you got a personal story? An opinion on the plastic bag ban? Any ideas on what could be the next step? Let us know by getting in contact on Facebook or Instagram! Share your photos of wildlife or plastic pollution! Most importantly, continue to fight in any way you can, refuse, reduce, recycle and refrain from shaming any body who is doing their part. It is not everyone's job to save EVERY part of the world but it IS everyone's responsibility to appreciate every person who is doing THEIR part. We're all trying our best and NONE of us know what the solution is.
We are always open to any questions or suggestions with our blogs, find us on our socials or contact the marketing team today!
Jaimee & Steph
All Around Tanzania Marketing Team