More than 60 poachers were arrested last year in the Limpopo National
Park, in Massingir district, in the southern Mozambican province of
Gaza, according to the park’s administrator, Antonio Abacar.
Speaking on Friday, at a ceremony where the Minister of Land,
Environment and Rural Development, Celso Correia, inaugurated a new
Massingir tourist resort, the Balule Lodge, Abacar said “We detained
61 poachers in 2015, compared with 50 in 2014, and we seized 12 guns,
compared with 18 in 2014”.
He said the detentions resulted from joint work between the Mozambican
and South African authorities. The main targets for poachers, Abacar
said, are elephants and rhinoceros.
Rhinos are now virtually extinct in the Limpopo National Park. “We
estimated that there were at least six rhinoceros, but we must make
clear that some of them pass through here from South Africa”, said
Abacar. The Mozambican park borders on South Africa’s Kruger National
Park, and both, together with Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park,
make up the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park.
Abacar added that, in the last count, only two rhinos were seen within
the boundaries of the Limpopo National Park. As for elephants, there
are about 1,000 of them in the park. Poaching has drastically reduced
the Mozambican elephant population. The elephant censuses of 2009 and
2014 showed a fall in the number of elephants in the country between
those two dates from over 20,000 to 10,300.
Correia stressed that the building of tourist lodges within
conservation areas is important for their protection. “We all have the
duty to protect the environment”, he said. “We should work with shared
values and visions”.
But one of the partners in the Balule Lodge, Renato Mucabele, warned
that poaching could have a devastating effect on tourism.
“We are missing a lot of animals because of poaching”, he said. “No
tourists will come here, if poaching continues at these levels”.
Mucavele said that a consortium of Mozambican South African and United
States investors had invested 350 million rands (about 22.3 million US
dollars) in the Bahule Lodge over the past eight years. He claimed
that the lodge, at the centre of a game farm, employs 220 people.
The lodge managers hope to rehabilitate the Massingir aerodrome, in
order to make it easier for tourists to visit the lodge.