About thirty Mozambican magistrates are receiving training relating to the application of the law on conservation and the legal procedures which are in place to combat commercial poaching and the illegal trade in the country’s flora and fauna.

The two-week course in Maputo is organized by the WorldWide Fund for Nature (WWF) in partnership with the Attorney-General’s Office and aims to equip the magistrates with an understanding of the best way to implement the law.

Speaking at the opening of the course here Monday, Assistant Attorney-General Angelo Matusse called on the magistrates to take account of the seriousness of the issue given the importance of conserving national biodiversity.

“This training is not a trivial exercise and whose result will not end up as just a report. Our expectation is that this training will serve as a launchpad for a relentless offensive against these crimes,” he added.

The director of WWF Mozambique, Anabela Rodrigues, said the organizers saw the need to train staff in the judiciary for a more effective and efficient implementation of the law on conservation.

“A country that can take care of its fauna in an effective manner is a country that proves that it is organized, that proves that there is order in the country, because it is able to prevent its borders from being vulnerable to criminal gangs,” she added.

Earlier this month, Vietnamese Customs at the port of Ho Chi Minh City seized about two tonnes of ivory hidden in a shipment of timber which had arrived from Mozambique.

Despite the authorities seizing the ivory, the two countries have been threatened with trade sanctions if they do not take action against the illegal trade in endangered species (specifically rhino horn).

The 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Johannesburg agreed to send a mission to Mozambique and Vietnam to assess the situation on the ground as key countries implicated in rhino trafficking.

Based on the results of those missions, there may be a recommendation for trade sanctions if significant progress is not made.