By Estacio Valoi
This September, Zinave National Park received another 10 Rhinos, therefore, 5 black and another 5 white.
Currently, in Mozambique, the Zinave National Park is the only one in the country that has the “Big Five”, that is, Elephant, Rhinoceros, Lion, Buffalo, Leopard and is managed under a co-management regime between the National Administration of Areas of Conservation (ANAC) and the Peace Parks Foundation (PPF).
Located in the District of Mabote, province of Inhambane, the Zinave National Park has over 200 tree species and 200 species of grasses and, of animals in addition to the Big Fives, you can see wild pigs, crocodiles, wild goats, giraffes, hippopotamus, impala, kudu, inhala, oribi, chango, piva, ox-horse, zebra among others.
While the security is getting tight according to Zinave Park representatives some of the main poachers such as Simon Ernesto Valoi notorious poacher nettled in a sting operation led by Mozambique’s National Criminal Investigation Service still behind bars in Mozambique
Poaching with impunity
Valoi, who also goes by the name Simon Tivani, lives in Massingir, a dusty, downtrodden district about 330 kilometers (205 miles) north of Maputo, on the border adjacent to South Africa’s Kruger National Park. He is widely believed by locals and law enforcement alike to be a violent poacher and a car thief, responsible for more than one murder.
South Africa’s environmental department recorded 1,700 rhinos poached across the country’s national parks in the past five years, almost all of them in Kruger, with poachers killing many more on privately held reserves. A database maintained by the investigative environmental journalism site Oxpeckers says 5,152 rhinos have been killed in Kruger National Park since 2010. Reporting by Oxpeckers says that Valoi and other poaching kingpins have built mansions with the profits from the sale of rhino horn to Chinese and Vietnamese buyers over the past two decades.
These opulent homes stand in contrast to the general poverty of the rural district of Massingir, where most people are subsistence farmers, with few other employment opportunities. Recent development of ecotourism has not yet translated into widespread benefits for the local population.
This lack of opportunity makes it easy for rhino horn traffickers to recruit young men to send across the border to hunt rhinos, a risky undertaking that exposes these low-ranking poachers to capture or even death in firefights with heavily armed rangers and other security forces protecting the park and the border. (Moz24h)