MARY DIXON: (1-347-840-1242; mdixon@wcs.org

STEPHEN SAUTNER: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org

Mozambique makes a stand against wildlife crime

Today, Monday July 6th, Mozambique destroyed 2434.6 kg of ivory and 86 pieces of rhino horn weight 193.5Kg

This burn shows that Mozambique is getting tough on wildlife crime and is prioritising conservation and wildlife protection

Mozambique is implementing several measures to crack down on wildlife trafficking

This was the world’s first major destruction of seized rhino horn

MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE (July 6th, 2015) – Mozambique made a strong stand against wildlife crime today by burning a recently seized stockpile of 2434.6 kg ivory and 86 pieces of rhino horn weighing 193.5Kg.

"Today sends a signal. Mozambique will not tolerate poachers, traffickers and the organised criminals which employ and pay them to kill our wildlife and threaten our communities." said Minister Correia, after setting ablaze the pyre in central Maputo.

He also said, "The ivory trade is driven by those beyond our shores but it is our citizens and our neighbours who pay the cost.

In May, Government-led surveys undertaken in partnership with WCS as part of the larger Great Elephant Census showed a dramatic 48 per cent decline in Mozambique's elephant population in just the last five years. In Mozambique these surveys were funded by Paul G. Allen, USAID, and WCS. Mozambique lost its last rhino in 2013.

The survey results and Mozambique's reputation as a known trafficking route for illegal trade have driven the Government's determination to act. In a sophisticated operation, Mozambican police recently seized 1.3 tons of ivory and rhino horn (65 pieces) in Matola - the largest amount of ivory seized in the country's history, and the largest ever rhino horn seizure. That seizure was part of what was destroyed today.

On 22 May 2015 twelve of these rhino horns were stolen from the police warehouse, prompting the President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyussi, to remark “When policemen are caught in the gangs trafficking in rhinoceros horns, elephant tusks, and various drugs, or facilitate these same crimes, I am unable to sleep.”

At least four policemen have been arrested in connection with this theft and a senior Provincial police commander has been implicated in local press.

“This event demonstrates the Republic's commitment to protecting its natural resources, and its zero-tolerance to poaching, trafficking and to the organised criminals behind this” said Dr Bartolomeu Soto, the Director-General of ANAC, in his letter announcing the event.

“Carlos Lopes Pereira, Head of Law Enforcement and Anti-poaching for ANAC, said: "To reverse this situation, concerted action is needed right now - not in five years' time. Today's action is an important step in permanently putting ivory and horn beyond economic use, where it cannot leak into the black market. It follows a detailed inventory and management review in which samples

were taken for DNA analysis. It also highlights the good work being done in prosecuting criminals under our new stronger wildlife laws."

Alastair Nelson, the country director for WCS, who supported the inventory said “This shows a commitment from the leadership of Mozambique to tackle wildlife crime, associated corruption and organised criminal gangs. Mozambique’s new environmental police unit and the new law offer a real opportunity for change. In Niassa Reserve, where 7,500 elephant have been poached in three years we are working hand-in-hand with Government to combat poaching and strengthen law enforcement. The stand taken by Mozambique today gives us hope.”

New measures to combat this wildlife crime in Mozambique include:

·         A new law the criminalises poaching and trafficking,

·         Deploying the new Mozambican environmental police unit to work with ANAC scouts to implement the new law and stop poaching and illegal logging,

·         Developing intelligence-led law enforcement capability, and improving training, equipping and leadership of protected-area scouts, including establishing specialist units that are properly equipped and armed,

·         Strengthening partnerships with international organizations,

·         Working with WCS and Stop Ivory to inventory ivory stocks,

·         MoU’s signed with Tanzania on 25 May 2015, and with South Africa in 2014, to strengthen cross-border collaboration to tackle poaching and trafficking.

Alexander Rhodes, CEO of Stop Ivory, said "The figures released earlier this year baldly chalk up the imminent total liquidation of Mozambique's famous elephant populations.  The concept of the vast wilderness of Niassa without elephants is like an international rugby match without prop forwards: absurd, broken and unsustainable.  We are delighted to have been able to share with ANAC the expertise and experience of ivory inventory and management we have accrued working with WCS and other partners in many countries across Africa.  "We are delighted to be working with ANAC in partnership with WCS, in particular sharing our considerable expertise and experience in ivory inventory, governance and management.  In line with our support of the Elephant Protection Initiative, we strongly commend the Government's actions today and look forward to assisting with its efforts to implement the African Elephant Action plan."

This destruction adds Mozambique's voice to the growing worldwide consensus that a future for elephants and rhinos is incompatible with trade in ivory and horn.  In the last three months the USA, the Republic of Congo, China, and UAE have all publicly destroyed their ivory stocks.

The inventory and this destruction results will be officially reported to CITES.


Dr Bartolomeu Soto, Director-General, ANAC (bsoto@anac.gov.mz or bsoto@tvcabo.co.mz +258 82 3029300)

Dr. Carlos Lopes Pereira, Head of Law Enforcement and Anti-poaching, ANAC (clpereira@anac.gov.mz +258 82 3223310)

Alastair Nelson, Country Director, WCS (anelson@wcs.org +258 82 0388071)

Mary Dixon, VP Communications, WCS (mdixon@wcs.org +1 347 8401242)

Mr. Alexander Rhodes, CEO Stop Ivory (Alexander.Rhodes@stopivory.org +44 2074407113


About WCS:

WCS Mozambique

MISSION: WCS conserves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. In Mozambique WCS partners closely with government to strengthen law enforcement and protected area management across the national protected areas network. WCS co-manages Niassa National Reserve with ANAC, the National Administration of Conservation Areas, and uses lessons learned to strengthen the national system. Visit: www.wcs.org; http://www.facebook.com/niassareserve Follow: @WCSMozambique 

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)

MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. VISION: WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: www.wcs.org; http://www.facebook.com/TheWCS; http://www.youtube.com/user/WCSMedia  Follow: @thewcs.

About the EPI (http://www.elephantprotectioninitiative.org)