Tanzania Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism Auctions 45 Tourist Hunting Blocks Under Questionable Circumstances

By TZ Business News Staff.

The Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA) has auctioned 45 tourist hunting blocks around the country for possible value of US Dollars 6,029,000 if all  bidders pay their calls–but the auction  was conducted  under questionable circumstances  January 12 –18, 2022.

Industry Sources have told TZ Business News the hunting blocks auction was planned to take place in September, 2022 to allow Tanzanian outfitters time to raise money for participating in the auction conducted in US dollars.

In July 2020, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism circulated information to local tourist hunting outfitters it would allow them time to regain financial strength until September 2022 on the understanding that the industry had been seriously hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, since no tourist hunters had traveled to Tanzania during the pandemic, rendering virtually all hunting outfitters financially kaput.

The Ministry has suddenly instructed TAWA to rush the auction to January 2022, eight months ahead of scheduled time, industry sources have complained, wondering what could have been the reason behind this rush.

TZ Business News contacted the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr. Damas Ndumbaro to find out why the Ministry changed its mind about its Covid-19 consideration to local outfitters.

The Minister was in Las Vegas in Nevada, US, when a questionnaire was sent to him through WhatsApp. The PDF with questions was seen and read but no response was returned– not even acknowledgement of receiving the questions.

The rushed auction appears to have been a scheme to weed out economically weak local outfitters suffering from the Covid-19 pandemic, in favor of super-rich outfitters most likely with links outside the country according to industry sources.  TAWA was instructed to hike block auction ‘benchmark fees’ in some cases by over 100%–in US dollars.

The Ministry instructed TAWA to reset all the so-called ‘reserved block price’ (the benchmark fees) above old prices before the auction. In the reset bidding price for ‘Category 1’ hunting blocks (the prime hunting blocks) would start at USD 151,000 against the old reserved price of  USD 60,000. Bidding for hunting blocks ‘Category 2’ was set at USD 81,000, up from USD 30,000 in the past.

Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr. Damas Ndumbaro

The reserved price for less lucrative ‘Category 3’ hunting blocks was set at USD 31,000, up from USD 18,000 in the past.

Seven local hunting companies dropped out from the auction completely, industry sources said.  They had been priced out in what some in the industry have described as ‘economic segregation’.

Some 25 companies participated in the rushed action. Of these, 10 were foreign companies. Out of the 15 local companies which participated 5 were new entrants in he industry. Most local participants entered the bidding to protect investments in their hunting blocks made in some cases for over 20 years.

One company made a USD 400,000 bidding call to buy a hunting block in Arusha. How do you recoup your investment from such a call, a source asked. There are two ways: one, you can cost-push your costs to customers– which in turn might help create the label Tanzania is an overly expensive tourist hunting destination.  In this scenario Customers will run away from this destination in favor of cheaper hunting destinations, the sources argued.

In the second scenario you might chose economies of scale–in which case TAWA increases hunting quotas to outfitters. This route decimates wildlife. This auction destroys local outfitters and will likely work against development of a sustainable hunting industry.