Poachers in central and northern Mozambique are killing elephants with poisoned food and water.
In Magoe, in the central province of Tete, dozens of elephant carcases have been found near water contaminated with cyanide.
According to the daily newspaper Noticias, this crime was documented in a recent study carried out by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The report stated that the increase in poaching in Magoe is a result of an influx of criminals from Zimbabwe, where poison is commonly used to kill elephants.
The research note stated: "In 2011, Mozambique had an elephant population of about 22,000, of which about 70 per cent were concentrated in two areas (the Niassa Reserve and Magoe district). Elephant populations existed in other parts of the country, but were more fragmented."
Poaching is also reaching worrying levels in the Niassa Reserve in the north of Mozambique. Between 2009 and 2011 the number of carcasses sighted during aerial surveys more than tripled, from 83 to 271.
The report also lamented that there are cases where elephant poaching in Niassa has the support and involvement of local communities. In addition, there have been cases where weapons belonging to border guards have been used to kill elephants.
The WWF pointed out that ivory and rhino horns are smuggled to the Asian market through Mozambican ports and airports. In addition, ivory, crafted into jewellery such as bracelets and necklaces, is found for sale in markets in Mozambique, particular in the capital city, Maputo.