Illegal loggers are looting the forestry resources in the Gile National Reserve in the central Mozambican province of Zambezia, according to a report by the independent television station, STV.

The looting is occurring in an area where the authorities have banned all logging, particularly the logging of pau preto (also known as African blackwood, or mpingo), a species which is threatened with extinction in Zambezia and which is protected by law.

From the start of January until now, 34 trucks laden with large amounts of illegally logged wood, from trees apparently chopped down at night, have been seized by the authorities but the looting continues and forestry authorities fear the involvement of corrupt forest wardens.

STV reporters accompanied the National Director of Forestry and Wildlife, Xavier Sakumbuera, into Gile. He found several trucks illegally loading logs under the noses of forest wardens. He intervened personally to halt the loading of one truck.

At night, STV accompanied forestry staff in chasing illegal loggers through the Gile reserve. The loggers eventually fled, abandoning a truck and all the logs it contained.

Sakumbuera found it “very strange” that timber was being looted in a conservation area where the forest wardens had both vehicles and firearms.

“Something odd is going on here. It should not be possible for timber to be stolen under the passive eyes of the forest wardens. We have to take measures. Things must not carry on like this,” he said.

He also wanted to make life more difficult for those who launch raids into the reserve by cancelling logging licences in the area surrounding the reserve.

Sakumbuera said three wardens already suspected of involvement in the looting would face disciplinary proceeding.

Source: AIM