In Show Of Strength Against Poaching, Mozambique Burns Illicit Rhino Horn And Elephant Ivory

Mozambique doesn’t have any living rhinos left, but the country is still a hub for the illicit, and highly lucrative, trade in endangered animal parts.

In an increasingly common show of force against poachers, wildlife officials destroyed more than 425 pounds of rhino horn and two tons of elephant ivory on Monday. The cache was seized in Maputo, Mozambique’s capital, earlier this year in what The Guardian calls the biggest haul of rhino horn ever.

The goods represent more than 200 animals that were killed for their horns and tusks, according to Agence France-Presse. Based on conservative estimates, the total value of the burned material on the black market hovers close to $17 million.

“Today sends a signal. Mozambique will not tolerate poachers, traffickers and the organized criminals which employ and pay them to kill our wildlife and threaten our communities,” Celso Correia, Mozambique’s minister of land, environment and rural development, said during the burning. “The ivory trade is driven by those beyond our shores but it is our citizens and our neighbors who pay the cost.”

Minister Celso Correia lighting today’s Ivory & rhino horn burn in Maputo #Mozambique @TheWCS

— WCS Mozambique (@WCSMozambiqu e) July 6, 2015

Despite the victory against wildlife crime, Mozambique is still struggling to keep up with highly armed criminal gangs that can make millions off a single poaching venture. Rhino horn can fetch upwards of $65,000 a kilogram — more than its weight in gold — and the price of elephant ivory tripled between 2010 and 2014.

Poachers in South Africa, home to most of the world’s remaining rhinos, are already on track to kill more of the animals this year than —> Read More