Authorities in the Limpopo National Park (PNL) have announced that no rhinoceros are left in the park in southern Mozambique.
According to PNL, this is the result of poaching which over recent years has reached alarming levels. The motive for rhino poaching is clear: the enormous sums paid in China and Vietnam for rhino horn.
According to the park administrator, Antonio Abacar, "since I arrived last January I have never been in the presence of this species inside the park, which means that those who lived in the park are now probably dead".
The extinction has not been formally declared by PNL, but the animals that were in the area have disappeared over the last two years. A census taken in early 2011 concluded that there were still some rhinos in the conservation area, but these disappeared later that year.
After killing off the rhinos the poachers have turned their attention to elephants which are now also being slaughtered.
Abacar lamented that "the big problem that concerns us most is that some of our staff are involved in poaching".
He pointed out that at least thirty members of staff are currently facing disciplinary action.
To strengthen supervision in the park, PNL is in the process of integrating police officers into park patrols.
PNL covers over 1.1 million hectares, and was set up as part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which also includes the Kruger National Park in South Africa, and the Gonarezhou Park in Zimbabwe. Between them, the three parks cover a total area of 5.5 million hectares.
Mozambican poachers have also ventured into South Africa in search of rhino horn. Figures published in February show that between 2008 and the beginning of that month,
South African forces killed 279 Mozambicans involved in rhino poaching. A further 300 Mozambicans were detained for poaching between 2008 and the end of 2012.
Some of the Mozambicans killed or arrested have turned out to be members of the Frontier Guard or of the armed forces.