MAPUTO– Mozambique’s Ministry of Land, Environment and Rural Development, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), has launched a project, budgeted at 16.5 million US dollars, to strengthen the conservation of endangered species in the country.

The project will run until 2024 and will finance the expansion of Mozambique’s conservation areas, and contribute to better use of the country’s biodiversity.

At the launch of the project here Monday, Deputy Minister for Land, Environment and Rural Development Celmiro da Silva said that one of the government’s priority areas is the preservation of natural resources and of the environment in order to ensure balanced and sustainable development of the national territory.

With this project, the government intends to strengthen programmes to conserve biodiversity, with a focus on the fight against poaching and against the illicit trade in wildlife products,” she added.

She said the project would promote rural development programmes with communities living in the Niassa National Reserve, in the far north, and in the buffer zone around the Gorongosa National Park in the central province of Sofala. It will also provide institutional support for the National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC) in implementing its strategy to protect biodiversity.

The UNDP resident representative in Mozambique, Marcia Castro, referred to the devastating attacks by poachers against the country’s elephant population, pointing out that between 2010 and 2014, more than 2,600 elephants were slaughtered in the Niassa reserve. She believed that this was not only an environmental but also a security problem.

We are aware that we need to redouble our efforts and our political, institutional and financial commitments if we want to reverse the current trends in this illicit activity,” she added.