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Deal bolsters Mozambique's fight against poaching

The deal aims to support the development of dedicated anti-poaching operations.

FILE: A ranger inspects a dead rhino found on the banks of a river in the Kruger National Park. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - A deal between the Mozambique Government, the Joaquim Chissano Foundation and Peace Parks Foundation was signed today to strengthen Mozambique's efforts to combat wildlife crime.

The deal aims to support the development of dedicated anti-poaching operations in and around the Limpopo National Park, which is part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.

The project implementation contracts signed today in Maputo follows the Memorandum of Understanding between Mozambique and South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs in the field of biodiversity, conservation and management, which was signed on 19 April.

The Department of Environmental Affairs chairs the Rhino Protection Programme Steering Committee which also includes South African National Parks, Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife and Peace Parks Foundation.

As part of the agreement, Peace Parks Foundation will be investing R30 million and offering material support and assistance to bolster Mozambique's anti-poaching efforts.

Werner Myburgh, Peace Parks Foundation chief executive says the agreements will see current efforts to combat wildlife crime in and around the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park being expanded, with more efforts on multiple fronts.

"Many of the actions will be taken jointly by Mozambique and South Africa. Wildlife crime is often transnational by nature and transfrontier conservation areas and agreements such as these signed today, offer an important platform to counter the decimation of our protected species."

Wildlife Crime is the fourth largest illegal activity in the world after drug trafficking, counterfeiting and human trafficking with an annual turnover of at least 19 Billion US dollars.

It is decimating Africa's iconic species of elephant, rhino, lion and leopard and threatening the very existence of Africa's protected areas where tourism is a major GDP contributor.

UPGRADED RANGER TECHNOLOGY

The project makes provision for the upgrading of field communications technology used by rangers, as well as a shared radio communications systems across the international border.

The agreement further includes providing training and equipment to rangers and improving rangers' working conditions within Limpopo National Park, which abuts the Kruger National Park.

An essential component of the project entails supporting the judicial system in Mozambique to effectively implement the new Conservation Areas Act that will bring about much stiffer penalties for anyone involved in illicit wildlife product trafficking.

Cooperation with the Mozambique Government will also extend via Peace Parks Foundation's partnership with the Joaquim Chissano Foundation's Wildlife Preservation Initiative.

This includes launching an anti-poaching and counter-trafficking programme as well as the deployment of sniffer dogs on trafficking routes.