Q&A – 20 February 2023

Domestication of cobra for worship

In our traditional community we keep cobras which we use for ritual and traditional worship. Our head of traditional community in whose house we keep the cobra has been arrested and charged for unlawful possession of a Government trophy. We feel the arrest of our traditional community leader is disrespectful to our culture and freedom of worship. Since we are the ones keeping and feeding the cobra, is it legally proper to treat such a domesticated cobra as a Government trophy? Please guide us on the legality of the charge against our head of traditional community.   
SM, Katavi

In view of section 3 of the Wildlife Conservation Act [Cap.283 R.E 2022] (the Act) Cobra is a wild animal hence it is a trophy. It is clearly stated in section 4 of the Act that any wild animal in Tanzania is a public property vested in the President as the trustee for and on behalf of the people of Tanzania. A domesticated wild animal becomes a private property only if it was acquired and kept in accordance with wildlife laws and a licence or permit to own, possess or keep it was sought and granted in accordance with the laws protecting wildlife in Tanzania. Where the wild animal was obtained unlawfully and kept or fed in contravention of the law, the mere keeping or feeding the wild animal does not transfer the ownership from the Government to the possessor or keeper. It is provided under section 85 of the Act that any wild animal acquired in breach of the wildlife laws or the animal which is in possession of a person who fails to satisfy the director of wildlife that she/he lawfully acquired the same remains the property of the Government. Keeping a cobra or feeding it does not in itself make the cobra the property of the traditional community which uses it for ritual and traditional worship. Hence the ownership can only move from the Government to the traditional community if the acquisition and keeping of the cobra has been done in accordance with the wildlife laws of Tanzania.

Procedure for taming a wild animal like cobra for ritual and traditional worship depends on whether the cultural activity for which the wild animal is tamed is meant for any economic gain or is purely for ritual, traditional worship or preservation of culture. If the raising of the wild animal is meant for pure preservation of culture, traditional worship or ritual, the person or the traditional community intending to tame the wildlife should apply to the Director of Wildlife in accordance with section 58 of the Act and the Wildlife Conservation (Capture of Animals Prohibition) Regulations, 2013 for a special permit to capture the wild animal. The Director may, with the consent of the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism given in writing and in public interest, with or without fee, grant to the person or the traditional community a special licence to capture the wild animal for the purpose of preservation of the culture, traditional worship or rituals.

However, if the purpose for which the capturing licence is sought is commercial or personal gain, the person or the group applying for a licence shall be required to pay the application and licence fee and shall as well be required to pay a royalty fee. The capture permit shall specify the animal and the areas within which the animal is allowed to be captured and the validity period of the capture permit. In exercising the right to capture the animal granted by the capture licence, the traditional community or the person exercising the right under the licence should submit to the Village Council and the District Game Officer within the area where the capturing is to be done, certified copies of the capturing licence issued by the Director of Wildlife.

In granting a capture licence for traditional activities, the Director of Wildlife may, as a condition for the grant of the licence, direct that the applicant should deposit with him, security for compliance with the wildlife laws in the course of exercising the rights under the licence. Compliance security may be in the form of money that is not less than the value of the animal to be captured but not more than twice the value of the animal. In case of non-compliance with the wildlife laws, the security bond deposited by the applicant or the traditional community may be forfeited to the Government.

Please note that once the licence is granted to the traditional community to capture and tame the animal, the licence cannot be assigned or transferred to another person or another traditional community without a written authority of the Director of Wildlife. Wherever the traditional community will be performing the rituals or traditional worship it shall be required to carry with it a licence or written permit or written authority. It should be borne in mind that the permit granted to capture and tame the wild animal may, for good cause, be cancelled, varied suspended. However, a person aggrieved by the cancellation, variation or suspension has the right to appeal.

Limitation of renewals of employment contract for specified term

I have been working for my employer as a marketing manager on a specified term contract of one year which I have been renewing for nine terms making an aggregate of ten years of my consecutive service to the same employer. Doesn’t the law limit the number of renewals of specified term agreement? Can I now claim to be given a permanent contract?
OP, Arusha

Both section 14 of the Employment and Labour Relations Act [Cap.366 R.E 2019] and the Employment and Labour Relations (General) Regulations, 2017 do not have any specific provisions which limit the number of renewals of the specific term employment agreement. The only limitation imposed by law is that an employment contract for a specific term should not be for a period of less than twelve months. So there is no legal basis for you to claim a permanent contract.