Mozambique police involved in theft of rhino horn

Contrary to previous denials it has now been confirmed that senior police officers were involved in the theft of 12 rhino horns, following the early May haul of over 300 elephant tusks and 65 rhino horns in Matola.

Although the poached items were put under security, two weeks later it was discovered that 12 of the real rhino horns had been substituted by fake ones. So far four police officers are under arrest, two employees of the country's land, environmental and rural development agency and the two fakers of the rhino horns.

The theft has reinforced demands that such items should be incinerated, as they have been in Ethiopia and Kenya recently, rather than be kept which adds to the danger that they will be stolen and recycled back onto the lucrative illegal markets.

Mozambique, which has a bad record of theft of wildlife products is coming under pressure from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to tighten up poaching and security and to implement CITES provisions, which include the mandatory reporting of all government stockpiles.

The country has recently signed agreements with both South Africa and Tanzanian on cross-border wildlife management and the tightening up of poaching and trafficking of illegal wildlife products.