Maputo — The Mozambican government plans to invest, over the next five years, 100 million US dollars in building infrastructures and stimulating conservation agriculture in those districts where national parks and reserves are located.
The Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development, Celso Correia, announced this intention on Wednesday at the opening ceremony of a meeting to discuss national plans to combat trafficking in ivory.
The new investments, to be implemented with the support of Mozambique's strategic partners, seek to combat poaching and the ivory trade throughout Mozambique.
"We are fully aware that we will not win this struggle solely with a community approach", said Correia. "Our struggle will only be victorious through concentrated, but above all integrated, actions, resting on inter-institutional cooperation between states".
He stressed that Mozambique has taken significant steps in the struggle against poaching, citing "the seizure of three tonnes of ivory this year, which means that we have been fighting against this crime seriously. We will not yield".
The seizure Correia mentioned was in fact estimated at 3.5 tonnes. The ivory haul consisted of a total of 867 elephant tusks, hidden in a container in Maputo port, among a large amount of plastic being sent to Asia for recycling. The destination for the container, mentioned on the export documents, was Cambodia, but, according to the independent television station STV, the container came from a Chinese-owned company called Newlite located in Beluluane, on the outskirts of Maputo.
Correia stressed that the main pillar of the government's conservation policy is "rural development, placing the communities at the centre of our action".
He noted that the latest census of the country's elephant population, in 2014, had shown a dramatic collapse in elephant numbers, over a five year period, from over 20,000 to just 10,300.
For her part, the British High Commissioner, Joanna Kuenssberg, expressed her government's satisfaction in assisting Mozambique in the fight against wildlife crime. "We have noted that Mozambique is committed to the fight against the illegal trade in ivory", she declared.