Rhino horns seized in Mozambique's 'biggest bust' stolen

Cape Town - Sixty-five rhino horns that were seized in an operation heralded as "Mozambique's biggest breakthrough in the war on illegal wildlife trafficking", have been stolen.

According to reports the horns were stolen from the strong-room at the premises of the Police Provincial Command in Mozambique, which was secured with just three padlocks, in the early hours of Friday morning.

Six people have since been arrested in connection with the stolen horns, with an estimated street value of R76m.

The horns were most likely hacked from animals slaughtered in the Kruger National Park.

The nationalities of those arrested are not known, and there is no indication if the horns were recovered.?

Shortly after the approximately 124kg horns were reported missing, newly-elected President Felipe Nyusi, addressed a police parade to mark the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Mozambican police force.  

During his speech he said: "The news of policemen who join the ranks of the criminals, particularly when I am told that they have the necessary training so as not to commit the crimes they have embraced, deprives me of sleep.”

"When policemen are caught in the gangs trafficking in rhinoceros horns, elephant tusks, and various drugs, or facilitate these same crimes, I am unable to sleep,” Nyusi continued.

 "I cannot sleep when the statistics show an increasing number of police involved in crime."

The rhino horns were seized along with 340 elephant tusks, weighing over 1 000kg, in what was the country’s biggest find of illegal wildlife products.

In reaction to the operation prominent environmental activist Carlos Serra said: "It [the recovered horns] should be destroyed to send a message to the world that... we are shifting to another level of intervention in the fight against poaching."

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