The Mozambican and South African governments last week signed in Pretoria an agreement on the management and conservation of biodiversity, which is aimed at stopping poaching, particularly the poaching of rhinos, in the Greater Limpopo Cross-Border Park.
The agreement was signed by Mozambican Tourism Minister Carvalho Muaria and the South African Minister of Water and the Environment, Edna Molewa. The Greater Limpopo Cross-Border Park is a fusion of the Limpopo National Park of Mozambique, the Kruger Park in South Africa, and Gonarezhou in Zimbabwe.
As repeated confiscation of rhino horn, often from Vietnamese citizens, at Mozambican airports shows, Mozambique is a transit route for rhino horn trafficked from southern Africa to Asia where it is consumed for its completely fictional medicinal qualities.
Those running the trafficking rings hire a significant number of Mozambicans to kill the rhinos and cut off their horns. In the first three months of this year 25 Mozambican poachers were shot dead by South African game wardens, mostly in the Kruger Park.
Despite the deployment of South African troops to the Kruger park, the slaughter of rhinos is continuing. So far this year poachers have killed 293 rhinos in South Africa. In 2007, only 13 rhinos were reported poached in South Africa, but the number has risen dramatically in each succeeding year.
Molewa told reporters that the new agreement ldquoentails us working together with Mozambique to eradicate rhino poaching, and so that Mozambique is not used as a transit countryrdquo.
The two countries agreed to share intelligence and jointly develop anti-poaching technology and education programmes.
Earlier this month, the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, passed a bill on conservation areas which, for the first, time imposes still penalties on poaching. The bill proposes prison sentences of between eight and 12 years for people who kill, without a licence, any protected species
Anybody using illegal firearms or snares, even if they do not catch protected species, can be sentenced to two years imprisonment.
In addition, those found guilty of the illegal exploitation, storage, transport or sale of protected species will be fined between 50 and 1,000 times the minimum monthly national wage in force in the public administration (at current exchange rates, that would be a fine of between 4,425 and 88,500 US dollars).
Violation of the provisions of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) could also result in a fine of up to a thousand times the national minimum wage. So ivory or rhino poachers, if caught, are looking at a prison term of 12 years and a fine of almost 90,000 dollars).
“Previous laws did not penalise poaching, but we think this law will discourage Mozambicans who are involved in poaching,” Muaria told the Pretoria ceremony.
Source : Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique