The elephants in northern Mozambique survived the country’s bloody civil war, but now they are being killed by the hundreds every year. An aerial-survey, commissioned by WWF-Mozambique, shows that between 480 to 900 elephants died in the area between 2011 and 2013, with the majority of the deaths being blamed on poaching.
“The elephant deaths are probably due to illegal hunting and the losses are likely to be devastating to the population,” said Anabela Rodriguez, Country Director of WWF-Mozambique.
Almost half of the elephants sighted during the aerial-survey of the landscape at the end of last year were carcasses of dead elephants. WWF is now calling for urgent action following these shocking research results.
“Mozambique has emerged as one of the main places of the slaughter of elephants and ivory transit in Africa and as a profitable warehouse for transit and export of rhino horn for the Asian markets,” said WWF International’s Policy Expert on Wildlife Trade, Colman O’Criodain. “We need to see urgent action and ongoing commitment to combat these illegal activities.”
But poaching seems to be increasing in not just Mozambique but also in neighboring South Africa. According to South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs, say that hundreds of rhinos have been killed. Figures released at the end of May showed that a total of 442 rhinos have already been poached in 2014 – with more than half killed inside the Kruger National Park.
WWF is organizing a meeting with conservation NGOs, wildlife experts and government officials this week to find ways to stop this renewed onslaught on the elephant and rhino populations of southern Africa. But weak enforcement, vulnerable borders and corruption in Mozambique makes it hard to co-ordinate an effective response to poaching.
“Well-organised and structured criminal networks facilitated by corruption are luring unemployed youths in the region to engage in criminal activities,” said Dr Jo Shaw, Manager of the Rhino Programme for WWF-South Africa. “In order to cope with this crisis, we need interventions that involve a variety of stakeholders from government, through to the private sector and civil society to change attitudes towards wildlife.”
WWF calls for strengthened law enforcement and increased awareness “across all sectors of society” about the illegal wildlife trade that fuels the poaching in Mozambique.