Record 1,160 Kilograms of Ivory and 65 Rhino Horns Seized in Mozambique

Record 1,160 Kilograms of Ivory and 65 Rhino Horns Seized in Mozambique
Thursday, 14 May, 2015
Cape Town, South Africa

Mozambique has made its biggest ever seizure of ivory and rhino horn – more than one tonne of ivory, and 65 rhino horns.

The seizures were made last week, Tuesday 5th May, in a raid on a private home in Matola, a small city close to the capital of Maputo. A Chinese national has reportedly been arrested. The cache included 340 elephant tusks weighting 1,160 kgs and 65 rhino horns weighing 124 kgs. Authorities said some of the tusks were still bloody, indicating they were from recently poached elephants.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare said that while it applauded any confiscation of illegal ivory, it was crucial that governments looked beyond seizures as the answer to disrupting trafficking.

“Seizures of ivory are always good news in the fight against poaching and illegal trafficking because they indicate improved levels of law enforcement, but seizures are the public face of a very tragic scenario that is killing up to 50,000 elephants a year and shows no sign of abating,” said Jason Bell, Director IFAW Southern Africa and Director of IFAW’s Elephant Programme. The IUCN says the African elephant population currently stands at 470,000 down from 550,000 in 2006.

Earlier this month, the South African Government announced that rhino poaching during the first quarter of 2015 had outstripped the same period last year, with 393 rhinos poached countrywide between January and 31 April 2015, 290 of those were killed in the Kruger National Park which shares its long eastern border with Mozambique.

“The only way countries are going to stop poaching of elephants and illegal trade is by cooperating with agencies such as Interpol, and the law enforcement bodies of other governments to map and profile those behind this transnational criminal activity and dedicate the resources needed to reduce the capacity of those who seek profit from ivory trafficking.

“There is a great need to focus on strategies which seek to deter and halt the killing of these magnificent creatures,” he said.

As one of the world’s most lucrative criminal activities, valued at US$19-billion annually, illegal wildlife trade ranks fifth globally in terms of value, behind the trafficking in drugs, people, oil and counterfeiting.

Most illegal ivory is destined for Asia, in particular China, where it has soared in value as an investment vehicle and is coveted as “white gold”. Availability of legal ivory in China purchased form the stockpile sale in southern Africa in 2008 has, in turn, boosted demand encouraging illegal ivory trade and the poaching of elephant to meet market needs.

As part of a worldwide capacity building initiative IFAW trains law enforcement officers in wildlife trafficking prevention in several countries throughout Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Oceania, and the Caribbean. The organization has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Interpol, the first ever signed by Interpol’s Environmental Crime Programme with an NGO. IFAW and Interpol have collaborated on numerous projects since 2005 including Interpol’s largest-ever illegal ivory trade operation in 2012.

The IFAW report, Criminal Nature: The Global Security Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade, documents the threat the illegal trade poses to animals like elephants and rhinos, and also people. The learn more about the illegal ivory trade, download IFAW’s digital magazine Unveiling the Ivory Trade

Ends

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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