South Africa is currently experiencing a catastrophic rhino poaching crisis, with 668 rhinos lost during 2012. It is now evident that Mozambique has played a key role in this illegal killing.
The vast majority of rhinos killed in South Africa are poached in Kruger National Park, which shares a long, porous border (356km) with Mozambique, where most of the poachers come from. Poachers from Mozambique are easily able to illegally slip across the border into Kruger National Park, and even if South African National Parks rangers are able to detect them, they are unable to carry out the ‘hot pursuit’ once the poachers have crossed the border back in Mozambique. During March 2013 alone, Kruger Park recoded 72 known cross-border armed incursions from Mozambique. Of the 94 rhino related arrests in South Africa this year, 44 of these have been in Kruger (9 May 2013).
In Mozambique, there are no strict penalties for rhino poaching or possession of rhino horn and poaching is simply considered a misdemeanour offence. Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world, and there are many individuals willing to risk their lives to earn money through poaching. The country suffers from high corruption and even Mozambican field rangers have been arrested for rhino poaching.
Recent reports claim that settlements have sprung up along the Mozambican border, with towns thriving on the money received from the illegal sale of rhino horn to criminal gangs. International criminal syndicates have been quick to recruit willing poachers, where lack of law enforcement means gangs are easily able to export the rhino horn Eastern Asian markets.
There was once a fence separating the Kruger National Park from Mozambique. However in December 2002, the presidents of South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe signed an international treaty to establish the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. The treaty resulted several areas of fence being dropped along the South Africa / Mozambique border to increase the habitat for wildlife and encourage animals to roam between the countries’ nature reserves. More....