Maputo — About 80 per cent of the poachers arrested by the South African authorities in the Kruger National Park are Mozambicans, according to William Mabassa, of the public relations service of the Kruger Park.
Speaking on Tuesday, at a seminar in the southern Mozambican city of Inhambane on “The role of the media in the promotion of tourism and the fight against poaching”, Mabassa said the South African authorities are seriously concerned at the number of Mozambicans crossing the border to slaughter wild life.
Some have paid with their lives. Wardens shot dead 13 Mozambican poachers in the Kruger Park in 2013, and a further seven in 2014.
Mabassa urged the Mozambican government to invest more in communication so as to raise the awareness of communities about the need to fight against poaching. Local languages, should be used, he said to make communities understand that animals such as elephants and rhinoceros are worth more alive than dead.
“The media have an important role to play in raising awareness”, he said, “particularly when the content is made available in the languages that Mozambicans speak”.
This was the consensual position of the journalists attending the seminar, who also argued that there should be specific government funding for this purpose. The seminar was organized by Radio Mozambique, as part of the celebrations of its 40th anniversary.
Meanwhile, the fight against poaching took a step forward with the appointment of one of the country’s most prominent environmentalists, Carlos Serra, as National Director of the Legal Office of the Ministry of Land, Environment and Rural Development.
“I accepted this new challenge after much thought and consultation”, Serra wrote on his Facebook page. “I shall do my best in drawing up and revising legislation, and in training professionals in the sector”.
He pledged that he would remain linked to environmental activism and to academic work, despite his new government responsibilities.
Serra was one of those who insisted that ivory and rhino horns seized from poachers must be destroyed, lest they once again fall into the wrong hands. The government eventually agreed, and on 6 July the authorities incinerated 2.4 tonnes of illicit wildlife produce seized from poaching gangs.
618 elephant tusks and 82 rhino horns were consigned to the flames.