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Media Release: Mozambique and South Africa hold urgent meeting on rhino poaching
On 06 February 2012, the Minister of Tourism in Mozambique, Minister Fernando Sumbana Jnr, and the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs in South Africa, Minister Edna Molewa, held an urgent meeting in Pretoria to find viable solutions to the scourge of rhino poaching that has seen the Kruger National Park (KNP) losing 252 rhino in 2011.
The meeting was also attended by top government officials in the respective departments of both countries; Mr Fundisile Mketeni the Deputy Director General (DDG) of Biodiversity in the Department of Environmental Affairs in South Africa, Dr David Mabunda the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of South African National Parks (SANParks) and Dr Bartolomeu Soto the Head of The Transfrontier Conservation Areas Unit in the Ministry of Tourism in Mozambique.
At the meeting Minister Molewa stressed that poaching in the KNP has escalated to such unacceptable levels that South Africa urgently requires the full cooperation and support of Mozambique if the killing of rhino was to be significantly reduced.
Recently Minister Molewa announced various ways she had pondered to reduce the incursions through the porous Mozambique border stretching between the Massingir and the Komatipoort areas, including:
- Adding 150 field rangers to increase law enforcement officers in the KNP to 650;
- Requesting the South African government to increase military presence in the KNP;
- Improving coordinated national efforts to increase intelligence gathering, and;
- The possibility of strengthening the border fence between Massingir and Komatipoort.
Minister Sumbana emphasized the commitment of Mozambique to conservation by stating that the Mozambican government has prioritized law enforcement efforts that go beyond the narrow focus of rhino poaching. Mozambique is currently pondering legislation that will elevate the offence of wildlife poaching to a criminal offence carrying heavier sentencing rather than the current offence of damage to property. He added that Mozambique’s natural resources are being plundered by organized Mafia. Further to the proposed legislation a new elite highly trained National Anti-poaching Unit has been formed and the first recruits will be graduating shortly and deployed in priority poaching areas.
Minister Sumbana further said that, “to the extent that Mozambique is desirous of ensuring effective and efficient management of its parks, the Mozambican government has passed a decree creating a flexible state-owned agency similar to that of SANParks. This will assist with management effectiveness and allow greater flexibility in sourcing funding than is currently the case.”
It was reported in the meeting that realizing the success of collaborating with Mozambique on the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP) with reduced rhino poaching incidents and the difficulties of erecting a fence between Massingir and Komatipoort, Dr Mabunda had recently visited Dr Soto to discuss the idea of including the 220, 000 hectare Greater Lebombo Conservancy to act as an effective buffer for the KNP southern section linking with Mozambique. The idea has since morphed into a Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA) in line with the signed treaty that created the GLTP. Indeed, Article 3(2) of the signed treaty envisioned the TFCA in Mozambique to include “the Massingir and Corumana areas, as well as the interlinking regions” thus creating an immediate framework for bilateral between the two countries for the inclusion of the Greater Lebombo Conservancy. (See Map)
The two Ministers agreed to cooperate bilaterally to ensure that the planned TFCA was realized and concluded speedily. Drs Mabunda and Soto reported the high support for the TFCA by the various stakeholders and land users in Mozambique particularly the private concessionaires.
Issued jointly by SANParks and the Mozambican TFCA Unit
For media enquiries:
wanda mkutshulwa, Head of Communications (SANParks)
Tel: +27(0) 12 4265170 (W) OR +27(0) 82 908 2692 (M)
Dr Bartolomeu Soto, Head of the TFCA Unit in the Ministry of Tourism (Mozambique)
Tel: 00 258 823029300 (M)