MAPUTO, Forestry wardens in the central Mozambican province of Zambezia have seized five trucks loaded with 118 cubic metres of wood from protected species, according to media reports here.

Wednesday’s issue of the Maputo daily Noticias quoted the head of the inspection department in the Zambezia Provincial Forestry and Wildlife Services, Pedro Benjamin, as saying that the documents presented by the transporter of this cargo was illegal, and there are strong suspicions that the timber was illegally logged in the Gile National Reserve.

The months of January to March are the closed season for forestry, in which logging and the transport of logs are forbidden. However, since the start of January seven trucks, laden with timber, have been intercepted in Alto Molocue. Mocubela and Nicoadala districts, all of which border on the Gile Reserve, where illegal loggers are known to be operating.

In the Alto Molocue case, the owner of the truck was fined 540,000 meticais (about 7,800 US dollars), and the timber reverted to the State. The Forestry and Wildlife Services are still analyzing the Mocubela and Nicoadala seizures.

In the most recent seizures, in Nicoadala, the trees were definitely logged this year, and so the timber must be illegal. Noticias says it managed to confirm that these logs are the precious hardwood umbila, and were indeed extracted from the Gile Reserve.

Initially, the logs were being taken to Mocuba, the second largest urban centre in Zambezia, but then the route was changed to rake them to the port of Beira, where the prices are higher.