The Niassa provincial court, in northern Mozambique has sentenced three poachers, two of them of Tanzanian nationality, and the third a Mozambican, to ten years imprisonment for hunting and killing elephants in the Niassa national reserve, the country’s largest conservation area, Radio Mozambique reported last Thursday.
The three poachers were arrested in possession of a firearm and ammunition (the type was not specified) and 12 elephant tusks. This group had thus been responsible for killing at least six elephants.
As part of the court’s sentence, the gun, the vehicle used by the poachers, and the tusks are all confiscated and revert to the state.
There has been a major onslaught by poachers against the elephant herds in the Niassa reserve in recent years.
According to the latest elephant census, the total number of elephants in Mozambique declined by 48 per cent in five years – from just over 20,000 in 2009 to 10,300 in 2014.
Most of the losses occurred in Niassa and the neighbouring province of Cabo Delgado, where the elephant population fell from around 15,400 to 6,100. The Niassa national reserve was hardest hit. Here the number of elephants fell from around 12,000 to an estimated 4,440. In the census, 43 per cent of all elephants seen in the Niassa reserve were carcasses.
Most of the poachers decimating elephant populations in the north come from Tanzania. The government is therefore working with the Tanzanian authorities to staunch the poaching.
In May, the Mozambican minister of land, environment and rural development, Celso Correia and the Tanzanian minister of natural resources and tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu, signed an agreement in Maputo on protecting the vast cross-border conservation area that covers the Niassa reserve and Tanzania’s Selous reserve, an area of around 15,000 square kilometres.
In the same vein, China has donated various equipment including vehicles, telescopes and generators worth 2.6bn/- to beef up anti-poaching operation in Tanzanian parks.
Speaking at the handover event in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Chinese ambassador to Tanzania Lu Youqing said that China and Tanzania have a long-term cooperation in various fields, including conservation of national resources.
He said the Chinese government has recognised Tanzania’s efforts in fighting against poaching that’s why they decided to offer such equipment to be used in the related projects.
“China has been supporting Tanzania for a long time, where we have
been doing different projects that contribute to the growth of the national income,” he said, adding that support is part of a joint initiative to combat all illegal activities in reserved areas.
He said that as a development partner to Tanzania, China is aware of the importance of combating all poaching related activities as a way to enable local communities to benefit from natural resources including wild animals.
Receiving the equipment, the minister for natural resources and tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu, said that the government was taking crucial measures to address poaching related activities purposely to accelerate national income with focus to attract more tourists to visit in the country.
He said that the provided modern equipment would enable game officers to conduct patrols effectively and easily identify as well as to apprehend criminals.
“I would like to warn those who support poachers to stop immediately as we are working day and night to ensure the safety of our natural resources,” said the minister.
Nyalandu also credited Chinese government for being the all time sponsor of different projects that are undertaken in the country in line with recognising and supporting efforts that are done by his ministry.
The minister added that the government was set to initiate port inspections by using special machinery to all cargo containers in a search of government trophies.
Tanzania is one of the countries in Africa faced with the problem of poachers who kill elephants in search of ivory that has been illegally transported abroad for manufacturing of different products.