Mozambique took a welcome and public stand against illegal wildlife trade this month by destroying 2.4 tons of elephant ivory and 86 pieces of rhino horn weighing more than 420 pounds. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service applauded the action in a statement issued July 10th.
“We are hopeful this signifies a renewed commitment to combat poaching and wildlife trafficking,” the statement noted.
Mozambique represents the tenth country to engage in destruction of confiscated illegal ivory since the Service held its first ivory crush in November
Rampant poaching is taking its toll within Mozambique and on neighboring countries.
Mozambique has lost 48 percent of its elephants in just the past five years. Recent surveys revealed there are only 10,300 elephants left in the country.
To the west of Mozambique, rhino poaching in South Africa skyrocketed from seven rhinos poached in 2000 to 1,215 rhinos poached in 2014. Poaching also affects the rangers who put their lives on the line to defend these magnificent animals.
Mozambique has experienced a number of significant thefts of seized ivory and rhino horn, and the United States recognizes the intended merit of destroying this stockpile not only to signal how seriously
Mozambique is taking this issue but also to prevent any potential re-entry of these confiscated items into illegal trade.
“Although this is a commendable action,” warns the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, “we are concerned by reports that the rhino horn destroyed by Mozambique may have been from cases still under investigation and could have provided valuable forensic evidence.”
“In addition,” the Service noted, “it’s unclear whether Mozambique followed standard investigative and prosecutorial procedures recommended by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) for dealing with seized rhinoceros horn.”
The Government of Mozambique’s decision to publicly destroy their confiscated ivory and rhino
horn should help send a clear message that poaching and wildlife trafficking will no longer be tolerated. The United States is committed to working with its partner Mozambique to stop a trade which threatens rhinos and elephants with extinction.