Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Poachers killed half Mozambique's elephants in five years

Government-backed survey shows elephant numbers declined from 20,000 to 10,300 due to illegal wildlife trade and lack of governance. Poachers have killed nearly half of Mozambique’s elephants for their ivory in the past five years, the US-based Wildlife Conservation Society said on Tuesday

Mozambique government-backed survey showed a dramatic 48% decline in elephant numbers from just over 20,000 to an estimated 10,300, the WCS said.

“This decline is due to rampant elephant poaching in the country’s most important elephant populations,” the WCS said. Remote northern Mozambique, which includes the Niassa National Reserve, was the hardest hit, accounting for 95% of elephant deaths, reducing the population from an estimated 15,400 to an estimated 6,100.

The figures can be explained by the arrival of poachers from Tanzania, where the elephant population has already been decimated, according to Alastair Nelson, director of WCS in Mozambique, whose organisation administers the Niassa Reserve.

“The major issue is one of governance. The north has always been a remote and poorly governed area, with an underlying level of corruption,” he told AFP.

“Some district police and border guards are being paid off, some even rent out their own firearms.”
The aerial survey found that in some parts of the country nearly half the elephants seen were already dead.

Elephant tusks are prized in Asia, where they are carved into ivory statuettes and jewelry.

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