Poaching has risen sharply across Africa in recent years, fuelled by rising demand in Asia for ivory. File picture: Masi Losi

Cape Town - Mozambican government officials have promised to increase their efforts to tackle wildlife crime – particularly rhino and elephant poaching.

The country has come under increasing international pressure in recent years for its lax attitude to environmental crimes committed by its citizens, and especially for their cross-border incursions into the Kruger National Park where hundreds of rhino continue to be slaughtered in brutal circumstances.

But there has also been massive elephant poaching within Mozambique itself – most in protected areas within the two northernmost provinces of Niassa and Cabo Delgado, but also in Limpopo National Park that is part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, or peace park, that straddles the borders of Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

It has been estimated that more than 2 500 elephants were poached in Mozambique between 2009 and 2012.

The country’s new commitment emerged from a three-day workshop attended by representatives of several Mozambican ministries, including agriculture, tourism, customs, finance, home affairs and environmental co-ordination.

The workshop was organised by the Mozambican National Directorate of Land and Forestry and by Traffic, the international wildlife trade monitoring network that was established in 1976 and operates in 30 countries. The network is governed by the Traffic Committee, a steering group composed of members of its partner organisations, the Worldwide Fund for Nature and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

In a joint statement after the workshop, Traffic and WWF-SA

said some of the discussions had focused on how Mozambique could meet conditions imposed upon it at this year’s meeting of Cites (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

To avoid Cites trade sanctions, Mozambique must amend its legislation to make the illegal killing of elephants and rhino and possession of ivory and rhino horn criminal offences with significant penalties.

It must also beef up law enforcement actions to control the illicit movement of wildlife products in the region and at its borders, and it is expected to submit a detailed progress report to the convention’s secretariat by January. - Cape Argus

 

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