Mozambique considers poaching law

2014-04-10 10:35
Faced with increased activity by poachers and traffickers, who are decimating the African elephant population to the point of potentially causing its extinction in the long run, the destruction of seized ivory by security officials have increased.

Faced with increased activity by poachers and traffickers, who are decimating the African elephant population to the point of potentially causing its extinction in the long run, the destruction of seized ivory by security officials have increased.

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Johannesburg - Mozambique is considering a new law to fight poaching, as the number of rhino killed so far this year in neighbouring South Africa reached 277, a minister said on Wednesday.

The proposed Conservation Areas Law will impose a prison sentence of up to 12 years, as well as a $90 000 fine for poachers of endangered species, including rhino and elephant.

Under the current laws, wildlife poaching is not considered a crime in Mozambique, where a large number of rhino poachers at South Africa's vast Kruger National Park are said to come from.

Buyers of smuggled horns often get away with small fines.

Mozambican authorities in 2013 said illegal hunters had wiped out rhino populations, with ivory poaching in the remote northern part of the country also on the rise.

Troops

Tourism Minister, Carvalho Muaria said the bill, which was introduced to parliament on Wednesday came after "increased pressure by game poachers, whose main targets are African elephant and rhinoceros".

South Africa's Kruger National Park, which boarders Mozambique has over the past years borne the brunt of rhino poaching.

This year, more than half of the attacks of the endangered species in the first three months of the year occurred in the park, where 166 animals were killed, despite the deployment of troops to protect them, figures released on Wednesday showed.

Authorities say hunters often kill the giant animals inside the heavily-guarded reserve and then escape with their hacked-off horns to Mozambique, where they are then exported around the world, often to Asia.

The crisis has seen the two countries sign a memorandum of understanding to the scourge of rhino poaching.

"South Africa recognises the need for engaging with Mozambique on wildlife management," the environmental affairs ministry said in a statement.

"The conclusion of the agreement comes as the number of rhino poached in South Africa since the start of 2014 increased to 277."

Illegal rhino killings in South African parks continue despite the introduction of air and foot patrols, as well as increased numbers of rangers assisted by troops.

So far 32 people have been arrested for poaching related incidents, but authorities could not give the number of cases that had been successful prosecuted.

In 2013, over 1 000 rhinos were poached in SA, fuelled by a demand for their horns in Asian countries, where they are believed to have medicinal properties.

In February, conservation groups announced that they will move 100 rhino to neighbouring Botswana for safekeeping.
Read more on:    rhino poaching  |  poaching
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