By Franz Wild
Poor Mozambicans must make an income from conservation so they don’t join the army of hunters who’ve helped take rhino poaching in neighboring South Africa to a sixth successive record, former President Joaquim Chissano said.
Chissano, 74, is setting up a foundation to work with the government to establish a special anti-poaching force and to help develop commercial projects so local residents can benefit from conservation work. He’s seeking $1.2 million in startup costs and $6 million per year from public and private donors.
“Extreme poverty encourages poaching,” Chissano said in an interview in the capital, Maputo, yesterday, after the official start of his initiative. “Humans have to know they have something to gain.”
A record 790 rhinos have been slaughtered in South Africa this year already. Most of these were killed in the Kruger National Park, where poachers slip through the porous 350-kilometer (217-mile) border from Mozambique. The horn is then shipped to Vietnam and China, where it’s more expensive than gold by weight and buyers believe it can heal ailments and improve one’s libido.
Next door to South Africa, which has the continent’s biggest economy, Mozambique is the world’s 20th poorest nation, according to the International Monetary Fund, providing a large pool of people willing to risk their lives by hunting rhinos.
Mozambican men are hired to shoot the rhinos, risking clashes with armed game wardens in Kruger. Thirty-six have been killed in that way this year, Chissano said. More....