Maputo — The Mozambican police arrested 434 people for poaching between 2014 and the present, according to the government spokesperson, Deputy Health Minister Mouzinho Saide.
Poaching, particularly of elephants, has become a major problem. The latest census of elephants showed that between 2009 and 2014, Mozambique lost 48 per cent of its elephants, with numbers falling from around 20,000 to 10,300. The matter was discussed in Tuesday’s meeting of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet).
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Saide said that 158 poachers were arrested in 2014. This year there has been a significant increase in the number of arrests, with 276 poachers arrested so far.
“Poaching is motivated by the large sums paid by those who order this crime”, he said. “The poachers have used large caliber weapons, including military weapons, such as AK-47 assault rifles, often with faked documents and altered registration numbers”.
This year, Saide said, the authorities seized 1,124 kilos of ivory, and 75 kilos of rhinoceros horns.
Since both species of African rhinoceros, the black and the white, are believed to be extinct in Mozambique, these horns almost certainly came from animals poached in South Africa’s Kruger National Park.
Mozambique had also incinerated its stores of illicit ivory and rhino horns. The incineration, Saide said, saw over four tonnes of ivory (both raw and worked ivory) and rhino horns go up in smoke.
This year, he added, the authorities had seized 5,110 snares used by poachers and 55 firearms.