A meeting between South African and Mozambique officials yesterday is set to allow cross-border pursuits by South African rangers into Mozambique. Currently rhino poachers can kill the animals and make a dash to the border to safety.
The image of a Kruger National Park ranger standing helpless at the border with Mozambique while a poacher stands smoking and laughing with his rhino horn trophy could soon be at an end. The agreement which is to go to ministers next week for finalising will let rangers continue the pursuit and end the safe haven of the border.
The plan follows on from a meeting between South Africa Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa and Mozambican minister, Alcinda Abreu.
Mozambique is a natural safe haven for poachers in the Kruger with the border just minutes away from locations of rhino. With no law banning poaching the dash to the border ensures that the poachers get away.
This is the second major step forward that Mozambique has taken in as many weeks due to on-going international pressure.
In order to prevent Mozambique from being subject to CITES trade bans the country has to make poaching elephants and rhino a crime with serious penalties for those in breach of the new laws.
It is thought that the current move to allow cross-border pursuits and joint operations has been hastened by South Africa’s threat to replace the fence between the Kruger and Limpopo parks. If that fence was to be put back up then the internationally funded ‘peace park’ that was formed when the fence was removed would cease to exists. That would cost the Mozambique government almost £1 million a year in international aid to maintain the peace park.