By Tracy Ross
The Mozambique government has come under fire for its growing role as one of the major exporters of illegally acquired rhino horn and elephant ivory in Africa.
So says Tom Milliken, elephant and rhino coordinator for TRAFFIC International, a wildlife-trade-monitoring network. Recently, Milliken told Voice of America news that “Mozambique increasingly has become one of the major exit points” for the materials, a practice that has caused a “crisis for both species.” Milliken adds that Vietnamese ivory syndicates operating in Mozambique are responsible for the horns and tusks illegally leaving the country, and that it’s “very clear the improved law enforcement effort being made in South Africa has contributed to their new focus on Mozambique.”
In Mozambique poaching is illegal, but it’s not considered criminal. So, consequences are minimal. Milliken reports that the highly organized Vietnamese traders aren’t the only ones who take advantage of this. He says that Mozambique nationals are heavily involved in the poaching of rhino horns in Kruger National Park, which sits on the border of Mozambique and South Africa. Milliken says hundreds of rhinos are being killed, with Mozambican offenders often living so lavishly that it’s impossible to mistake the lucrative trade they’re engaged in. Milliken says Mozambicans are crossing the border into South Africa and killing the animals there, as well. They bring the horns back, sell them, and then ship them from airports and seaports to Asia.
But South Africa and conservation groups are no longer tolerating this chain of criminal activity. They made themselves known at a March meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which, says the World Wildlife Fund’s Jenna Bonello, “regulates the trade in animals and animal products,” thereby ensuring “that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.” There, CITES officials singled out Mozambique for its lack of action on poaching, and offered solutions to help mobilize the country against it. More....