sábado, 22 de agosto de 2015

Industrialization of elephant poaching in Mozambique

Incineration is not good enough because law reinforcement is lacking
Estacios Valoi 

Millions and millions of meticais in ivory still disappear from Mozambique smuggled to China with involvement of Mozambican leaders feeding the poaching “industry” mainly from North of the country.
The illicit poaching crime syndicate involving Mozambican officials and Tanzanian and Somalian citizens operating from within the north side of the country in ivory trafficking on “industrial scale” even surpasses statistics previously announced by some environmental organization such as WSC of between 800-1500 elephants slaughtered annually.

Officials recently destroyed about 2.4 tons of ivory tusks and 193 kg of rhino horn seized last May in Maputo in an attempt to starve this industry. According to Carlos Sera Junior, the gesture sent out a message “…about the strength of our commitment” to conservation, with Land, Environment and Rural Development Minister Celso Correia lighting the bonfire.
Not good enough
This is however just a fraction of tons of ivory, kept in other warehouses within the country and at risk of being stolen by the authorities as it happened with elephant tasks taken from the Agriculture Ministry’s offices in Inhambane and Maputo Provinces in 2011, including the firearms used on the illicit activities aimed at supplying an industry involving police and other officials of the judiciary system.

This industry has been growing for years. In 2011, about four tons of ivory tasks where burned in Cabo Delgado province’s Quirimba National Park. These tusks were seized after the closed trucks used for transporting the illicit ivory broke down about 2 kilometers from the rangers’ check point in the park. “It took place at the time where we had many elephants,” said one source.
Behind this were well-organized syndicates, organizing everything from transportation to crossing the police and agriculture officials’ check points with ivory from elephants poached at Bilibiza lagoon, Metupe-Npule, and villages along the Montepuez River
The same powerful officials are also part of these crime syndicates, operating on industrial scale, with several cases pointing at the involvement of officials attached to national security institutions. Said one source: “We saw it at the critical time when soldiers,…helicopters were involved in 2009/2010”  in (QNP)-Cabo Delgado province.”

Poachers such Manuel Carona from Montepuez are linked to the former Cabo Delgado agriculture director and slaughtered between six to ten elephants, with no action ever taken against him. It happened at the time when the current Mozambican Agriculture Minister was Cabo Delgado province’s Governor.
This case was brought to the former Cabo Delgado Governor José Pacheco’s attention in 2009 by Jose Dias, currently Gile National Reserve administrator in Zambeze Province.
Dias at the time was working for the provincial Agriculture department when Manuel Carona, together with a Portuguese national who was the manager of Negomano Safaris, poached six elephants. Corona’s UNIMOG truck was seized with dried elephant meat in Nambo Village-Mucojo as he was on his way to trade the meat in Mueda and Muedume districts.
The truck was taken to Mozambican police headquarter in Macomia. At the time, Jose Pacheco absent from the province and his deputy by Mister Vingua, former Plan and Financial province director, took charge of the case. Dias and Mozambican criminal police investigators pursuing the case were suspended by Alexandre Vingue after submitting their report.
“Governor Pacheco, back to Pemba, released a dispatch for all the governors in North of the country stating that Carona should not be accepted as an operator,” Dias said.
“Carona brought poachers from Montepuez - and today, he is the manager of Majune Safaris in Niassa province,” said another source contacted by this reporter. Indeed, the new wildlife conservation bill still has some gaps and big bonanzas for the criminal syndicates, and many a “prosecutor was still protecting his own people."

Court Case
“Judge, prosecutor benefit poachers”
Agriculture Ministry, Tourism and Interior, Law n-10/99, 7 June Forest and wildlife Bill
Decree n-12/2002, 6 June  Given competence for the agriculture, tourism and interior minister to approve the statute of the inspector of forest and wildlife; article 107,Maputo June 2006
Article 43 (Repressive tools and use)
1-      The ranger as a right to carry and use a firearm even without a license during his duty and its legitimacy use of it protecting states, self-defense or protecting other rangers on their duty cannot be criminalized.

2-      The rangers will only use force or firearm under high rational risk circumstances for his own physical or third person’s integrity; Or before a citizen his  confirmed resistance for the ranger’s  inspection during his duty or law measure applications
In March 2015, a joint operation by Rangers from Niassa National Reserve (NNR), Luwire Camp and by officials from Mozambican Police based in Marupá on pursuing poachers was held in the Reserve. During the operation five poachers were arrested and their two firearms confiscated. 
 Seven rangers from NNR, Luwire Camp and police officials where herd judged in Mecula court alleged by excessive use of force during poachers’ questioning.
In court the female judge, mainly Danilo Tiago the Mecula prossecutor defended the poachers. He even said we rangers have to pay the poachers, he wrote it in a paper and held it to the judge.” Said a ranger
 The other firearm, a .375, was confiscated from 19-year-old Rachide Chaibo (“Issa”), who remained in jail because he could not pay the bail. Chaibo confirmed to the Mecula court that the firearm belongs to his uncle Issufo, a poacher who was beaten up first by the rangers and later by police official, resulting injuries that saw him later hospitalized for 10 days.
The fact is corroborated by one of the rangers.  “We did beat the poacher and later we took him to the police station and there he was excessively beaten up and they took him to the hospital. We even said it in court.” 
A The Tanzanian poacher arrested  Muricho Rachid Muricho  (who paid bail of 95 thousands Meticais ($3.275.862 and was released) was using a semi-automatic firearm which belonged Captain Joao(He is known as Captain Joao) of the Mozambican Army Defense Force (FADEMO), stationed at the Marupá district military headquarters. 
“The Tanzanian poacher said that the firearm belongs to Joao, the only one soldier -captain in Marupa. There is no other Joao and when we asked Joao he also did confirm that the weapon belongs to him and he gave it to the Tanzanian Poacher in order to infiltrates him inside the poachers’ network. He is a military and not a ranger, not authorized”. Said the rangers the court, police station never invited Joao for the hearing.
Recently on 28th June, Mecula court fined the NNR and Luwire rangers to between four to nine thousands met ($153 to 310) in damages to Issufo and three poachers from Lichungwe-Marupá in jail, payable by 7th August 2015. Issufo today is back at his business, running a taxi in the Mecula-Marupá area.
The real problem was the administrator and prosecutor Cornelio, the rangers said.   In October 2014, six rangers (three each from NNR and James’ block) caught poachers during an operation held in the Rovuma River area. But then they were arrested by the police border patrol - because the poachers were working for them.  One of the NNR rangers was beaten so badly, he was hospitalized for a month.  No action was taken against the border police. “Cornelio, including the Mecula prosecutor, did nothing about this case, and now we have to pay theses poachers or go to jail!” said one of the rangers involved.
The rangers allege that Antonio Bernardo had told them he and Paul Nhenge had paid Mecula prosecutor Danilo Tiago and the chief of police operations a bribe of USD $16, 129. Tiago had previously denied any knowledge or involvement in this.
Recently on 05/08/15 Felisberto Mutereua the Chimbunila- Administrator and other seven people were detained by rangers ‘poaching’ inside Maua forest. The case was taken to police station and to the Mozambican general Attorney in district where the  defendant, administrator was heard by a prosecutor and later released. “He has firearm possession and hunting permits like many people I do know here. The others were never been in police station or in a hearing session with prosecutor! And he was granted a holiday while the others remain behind bars   Says a source in Lichinga. 

Wildlife and forest conservation law.
In spite of the Penal Code’s Article 253 having been stiffened on September 9 last year, several repeat offenders still walk free and Mozambique still was awash in a sea of illegal AK-47s.
Two crimes, poaching and illegal firearm possession, can result in about 24 years imprisonment but this new bill, is made only for poachers, in general poor people and benefits  the kingpins getting rich and rich on trade , exportation of product from poaching even on  timber looting. Kingpins are not imprisoned; they are condemned only to pay a bail and are set free by the Judicial System.
And yet, Mozambique is always present at all international meetings on environmental issues, the rangers bitterly remarked.

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