News / Africa

Mozambique Poaching Has Regional Effects

Elephant tusks seized in Kenya, which like Mozambique, has a serious poaching problem.
Elephant tusks seized in Kenya, which like Mozambique, has a serious poaching problem.

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
Mozambique says it is committed to fighting wildlife crime, especially elephant and rhino poaching. Thousands of elephants were killed in the country between 2009 and 2012. Poachers also use Mozambique as a base for regional criminal activities.


Mozambique has been under growing pressure to take a much tougher stand against poaching. Neighboring South Africa and conservation groups want the government to adhere to CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. A CITES meeting earlier this year in Thailand singled-out Mozambique for its lack of action on poaching.

“Mozambique increasingly has become one of the major exit points for both rhino horn and elephant ivory. We’re facing a crisis for both species. And, in particular, the Vietnamese syndicates that are behind the rhino horn trade – it’s very clear with the improved law enforcement effort being made in South Africa that they’ve moved next door to Mozambique,” said Tom Milliken, elephant and rhino coordinator for TRAFFIC International, a wildlife trade monitoring network.

He said that action taken by Mozambique will have a direct effect on South Africa.

“Mozambique nationals are heavily involved in the poaching of rhinos in Kruger National Park, which is the premier wildlife site in South Africa. Hundreds of rhinos are being killed in that park and mostly by Mozambican nationals, who are crossing over the border killing the animals -- bringing the horns back --selling them to the Vietnamese syndicates behind the trade. And then the horns are leaving for Asia out of airports and seaports from Mozambique.”

But poachers have taken a big toll within Mozambique itself.

“Mozambique’s largest elephant population is in the north of the country along the Ravuma River in a place called the Niassa Game Reserve. This is the largest population hey have and it’s a shared population with Tanzania. But we think just in the last three years or so about 2,500 elephants have probably been killed. I recently saw mortality data of carcasses that have been found. And we’re sometimes seeing family groups of six to eight elephants all gunned down at the same time,” he said.

It’s unclear how much money poachers get for a rhino horn or elephant tusk, but Milliken said you can get a pretty good idea.

“Some of the poachers who go into Kruger National Park from Mozambique – they’re the only people in their village that have houses with a solid foundation and sometimes they even drive Toyota Land Cruisers. So, it’s hugely lucrative for some individuals; and unfortunately, even though they’re criminals, they become the role models for the youth in that society because they’re so economically successful,” he said.

Mozambique is now reviewing its penal code to eventually make poaching a criminal offense that carries stiff penalties.

Milliken said, “We also rolled out identification materials in the Portuguese language. Getting customs officials and other people at the border crossings to accurately identify some of these products is really important. And up until now there haven’t been any materials in the Portuguese language.”

Mozambique must also submit a series of progress reports to the CITES Secretariat by next January. Representatives from TRAFFIC International, the World Wildlife Fund and others met recently with country officials to jump start the process.

Concerns over poaching go beyond Mozambique’s wildlife. Milliken said it can harm the country’s national security.

“So many of these criminal syndicates that are driving the rhino horn and ivory trades are Asian nationals, who are operating from bases within African countries. And if they’re operating successfully, it also means that they’re expanding their activities. They’re becoming more entrenched. Organized crime is not shy about using corruption or intimidation to get what they want. And so all of this is unfolding in these countries.”

He said the same crime syndicates involved in poaching may also be involved in drugs and human trafficking.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid