Mozambique: Over 300 Arrests for Poaching Last Year

The Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development, Celso Correia, announced in Maputo on 3 March that during 2015 the Mozambican authorities detained over 300 people in connection with poaching.

He was speaking at commemorations of World Wildlife Day, at a time when the country’s wild life is under serious threat. The latest elephant census showed that between 2009 and 2014, the Mozambican elephant population had fallen by 48 per cent (from just over 20,000 in 2009 to 10,300 in 2014). As for rhinos, both African species, the black and the white, are feared extinct in Mozambique.

“There have been noteworthy efforts to reverse the poaching scenario”, said Correia. He pointed out that those arrested in 2015 were not just the small fry who pull the trigger or set the trap. The authorities had also detained 20 traffickers in rhino horn and elephant ivory.

He added that the government is currently working on a proposal to increase the penalties for poachers “who are, in reality, environmental aggressors”.

Correia said that last year 300 new-born elephants were counted in Mozambique – but 380 elephants were killed in the same period.

“In 2014, we lost more than 500 elephants, and only about 250 were born”, said Correia. Thus, although there are signs that the pace of the slaughter is slowing, “the objective is to continue protecting these animals, so as to help their reproduction”.

But biologist Carlos Bento believes that Correia’s figures are too optimistic. In an interview, Bento said he believed the real number of elephants in Mozambique is not more than 5,000. He said the statistics suggest that an average of eight elephants a day are killed.

He warned against an exclusive concentration on elephants and rhinos, since poachers also attack other species, notably carnivores. Lion and leopards are becoming scarce in Mozambique – poachers shoot them for their skins which are traded on the illegal wildlife market.

Source All Africa