Cape Town - A multilateral meeting is on the cards between South Africa, Mozambique, China and Vietnam to discuss poaching and wildlife trafficking, with a particular focus on rhino horn and ivory.
This was revealed by former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano in his address to the World Wilderness Congress, WILD10, in the Spanish city of Salamanca.
In an exclusive interview with the Cape Argus, Chissano said a new company dedicated to enhancing wildlife protection, and with a special focus on rhinos and elephants, would be launched soon by the Peace Parks Foundation. The company would work with governments and all other stakeholders.
Chissano is a board member of the foundation that was set by the late Dr Anton Rupert, who approached him in May 1990 to discuss the possibility of establishing a permanent link, or “peace park”, between protected areas in southern Mozambique and their adjacent counterparts in South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
This eventually led to the signing of a treaty in 1992 for the formation of the Great Limpopo Transfontier Park that includes the Kruger National Park, Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park and Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park.
In his address to WILD10, Chissano explained why he had agreed to talk to Rupert and helped to set up the peace park, even though South Africa’s apartheid system had still been in place at the time, in order to promote peace in the sub-continent, and said he was still “delighted” to be involved in the foundation.
“We hope to get more resources through this knowledge of each other, and these resources will help to consolidate the work we are doing in order to expand it in other parts of Africa. This concept must succeed in other parts of Africa,” he said.
Speaking just after a Chinese government delegation had made a presentation on their environmental conservation programmes, Chissano said watching this presentation had given him “more courage” to pursue his work with the Peace Parks Foundation because he now realised that the Chinese government was also trying to prevent wildlife trafficking.
“I now see there are organisations who have the same concerns that we have, because we are having the big problem of trying to save our rhinos in South Africa
“We are trying to co-ordinate efforts in the region, and now we know we can co-ordinate even further with China and with Vietnam.
“Soon there will be a meeting between China, Vietnam and our countries for that purpose.”
In the interview, he explained that he had learned about this proposed multilateral to co-ordinate efforts to protect elephants and rhinos from his country’s ambassador to Germany.
“I don’t know when it will be, but he (the ambassador) said soon.”
Asked to comment on widespread anger in South Africa at Mozambique’s perceived reluctance to tackle rhino poaching by its citizens, Chissano said did not see any such reluctance.
“I know that the government is looking for ways and means to enhance their protection capacity.”
He suggested that the government might have appeared hesitant to act because it did not how to tackle the problem. - Cape Argus