Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tourism Minister of Mozambique Demands a Consolidated Effort Against Poaching

An elephant carcass in Mozambique.

Mozambique's Minister of Tourism Carvalho Muaria has recently called for a concerted effort of all parties keen on battling against illegal poaching. While speaking at a workshop held by the World Wildlife Fund in Maputo, he stated that international criminal syndicates are targeting southern Africa's elephant and rhino populations. He warned that the disappearance of such flagship species "will have a negative impact on tourism and socio-economic development. Furthermore, he emphasized the significance of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Mozambique and South Africa aimed to intensify the battle against rhino poaching and a new law on conservation areas which greatly increases the punishments for poaching the protected species. In addition, conservationist Madyo Couto indicated that both the black rhinoceros and the white rhinoceros are now extinct in Mozambique where they were once fairly abundant in the 1960s. He further added that the people of Mozambique are still killing rhinos. That is, many of the poachers who kill rhinos in South Africa's Kruger National Park are enlisted in Mozambique. Mr. Couto also indicated that some Mozambican police are also involved in the poaching epidemic by hiring guns out to poachers, noting that the same police gun was confiscated from poachers in South Africa and returned to the Mozambican police three times. The involvement of the police was so prevalent, that the whole unit in the Massingir District, located on the border with Kruger National Park, was relocated at the beginning of the year. In addition, Mr. Couto also pointed out that poaching had also corrupted the staff in Limpopo National Park where several park wardens and senior officials were recently fired for their involvement in these illegal activities.
Burned ivory

This article clearly indicates that the poaching epidemic in Africa continues to prove to be inevitable. That is, it not only involves poachers carrying out the dirty work for international organized crime syndicates but also the police and officials working in national parks and other protected areas providing some kind of support to individuals they generally regard as the enemy. The purpose of combating the threat of poaching and the illegal wildlife trade in Africa and other parts of the world should not only involve wildlife experts and conservationists, but also law enforcement and military officials who are specifically trained to pursue and apprehend anyone suspected of conducting or being involved in such illicit activities. The involvement of the police in this ongoing poaching epidemic by providing support for the poachers one way or another has spelled complications in the battle to end poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. Similarly, park wardens and senior officials working in any national parks or protected areas have also been found to be providing some kind of help to poachers which could be indicating areas where elephants, rhinos, and other targeted animals are commonly seen or frequent most often. By doing so, these members of the parks' staff, who play a crucial role in Africa's tourism, are negatively affecting the industry and socio-economic development not just in Mozambique, but also in other countries where poaching and the illegal wildlife trade is rampant. This is why it is extremely crucial that law enforcement and military officials, and staff members of various national parks must be thoroughly educated about how to avoid accepting bribes from poachers so that they do not become involved in the ongoing wildlife crime wave.

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