Mozambique authorities have seized 1.3 tons of elephant ivory and rhino horn, representing 200 dead animals, and an Asian man has been arrested in the country’s biggest ever poaching bust.
Rhinos are extinct in Mozambique, but hunters from the country are often armed by transnational crime syndicates to kill rhinos and elephants across the border in South Africa.
The 65 rhino horns seized were most likely hacked from animals slaughtered in the Kruger National Park which neighbours Mozambique. The police reported some of the tusks still had fresh blood on them, and hope the suspect will lead them to the trafficking gang behind the poaching.
Rhino horn is prized in Vietnam for its supposed medicinal properties while elephant ivory is highly valued in China and Thailand in artworks or jewellery.
“It should be destroyed to send a message to the world that … we are shifting to another level of intervention in the fight against poaching,” said prominent Mozambican environmental activist Carlos Serra.
“There is a war going on and we are losing,” said David Barritt, Network For Animals Africa director. “South Africa’s Kruger National Park is the frontline and rhinos are dying at a rate of more than three a day, along with an unknown number of elephants. Poachers kill the rhino and smuggle horn and ivory into Mozambique where middle men are waiting to send the horns and ivory onto the Far East. Network For Animals have already assisted the Kruger National Park with funds to help anti-poaching patrols aim to be able to do more. The bottom line is that we can only save rhino and elephant with significantly increased law enforcement, and that takes money the South African government is not prepared to spend. If we are to save the rhino, it will be ordinary people digging deep into their pockets.”