- News site Quartz obtained the new footage through WildLeaks, a project of the Elephant Action League meant to facilitate whistleblowing within the realm of conservation — a sort of WikiLeaks for forest and wildlife crime.
- A video leaked to Vice’s Motherboard that showed similar abuses led to the suspension of Green Mile’s license to operate in Tanzania in 2014.
- Green Mile was recently granted the lease to a hunting concession that formerly belonged to Friedkin Conservation Fund in a deal with the government of Tanzania’s recently elected president, John Magufuli, a member of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party.
Green Mile, a safari company that was banned by the Tanzanian government just two years ago after videos surfaced of graphic wildlife abuses by hunters that had engaged the company’s services, has been granted new concessions and begun operating in the country once again — and now further video evidence of wildlife abuses has emerged.
News site Quartz obtained the new footage through WildLeaks, a project of the Elephant Action League meant to facilitate whistleblowing within the realm of conservation — a sort of WikiLeaks for forest and wildlife crime. The video can be viewed on the Quartz site here.
A previous video leaked to Vice’s Motherboard that showed similar abuses led to the suspension of Green Mile’s license to operate in Tanzania in 2014. However, Green Mile was recently granted the lease to a hunting concession that formerly belonged to Friedkin Conservation Fund in a deal with the government of Tanzania’s president, John Magufuli, a member of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party (CCM).
The deal that allowed Green Mile back into the country has been highly controversial. Zitto Kabwe, a member of the Tanzanian parliament who belongs to the opposition party, told Quartz that “The whole Green Mile scandal from being ordered out of the country to… being favored to get blocks they didn’t bid in open tender, to impunity they have shown, shows how corrupt the CCM-state system is.”
According to Quartz, the three new videos from WildLeaks were produced around the same time as the footage that led to Green Mile’s suspension.
“Apparently made in 2012 to promote the company’s safari trips, the video shows repeated and brazen violations of Tanzania’s hunting laws—indeed, of the sporting norms promoted by hunters around the world eager to portray themselves as responsible stewards of the land,” Quartz’s Tim Fernholz reported.
“Among the shocking violations in the Green Mile video are hunting with automatic weapons, having children hunt with automatic weapons, gunning down fleeing animals from moving cars, capturing baby animals and torturing dying ones, and using bait and lights at night to attract unsuspecting animals,” Fernholz added. “The video was brought to parliament and became a national sensation.”
Major general Gaudence Milanzi, who serves as the permanent secretary of the Tanzanian government ministry that manages the hunting concession program, said that responsibility for enforcing hunting rules falls to the guides and government rangers who accompany the safari, not the safari company itself.
“The video was reviewed, and those who committed the offense, the officials were identified, and these are the ones that now supposed to be taken to court,” Milanzi said. He also told Quartz that he was not sure of the status of the investigation.
Green Mile, for its part, doesn’t deny that the videos show its clients engaging in illegal behavior, but insisted that the videos were part of a plot to discredit the company. “We cannot deny that we see some of our tourists in that video, but what happened is something…we were also shocked,” Green Mile advisor Yahya Kishashu told Quartz. He reportedly went on to claim that a rival hunting guide had taken a job at Green Mile just to sabotage its business. “The video was cleverly planted by our business rivals,” Kishashu said.
Tanzania does not have abundant resources for conservation initiatives, so the country leases hunting blocks to dozens of companies that are, in turn, supposed to pay for anti-poaching patrols and other measures to protect wildlife in the area.
But many environmentalists and conservationists are critical of the concession model’s effectiveness. “For one hunting concession that manages to do anti-poaching, there are many others that don’t care,” Andrea Crosta, the executive director of the Elephant Action League, said. “Tanzania, South Africa, Mozambique, places where trophy hunting is allowed, are all countries with serious poaching problems. In Kenya there is no trophy hunting, and the situation is much, much better than Tanzania.”