Club of Mozambique

Six individuals, including three teachers, are currently in custody in Beira, Sofala province, on charges of killing elephants in Gorongosa National Park and extracting their tusks, an environmental crime punishable under the Law of Protection, Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity (Law No. 16/2014 of 16 June), amended by the Mozambican parliament last November.

The other three detainees are park rangers. Both they and the teachers were detained at a checkpoint in Cheringoma as they attempted to leave the area.

The detainees tried to bribe their way out of trouble but failed, and an inspection of the car revealed the tusks alluded to. The six were also found to be in possession of precious stones of unknown provenance.

Talking about the case, Sofala chief public prosecutor Carolina Azarias said that her institution was working to clarify the matter and hold those detained accountable, if their involvement was proved.

She told reporters she was worried that teachers were engaging in plundering wildlife resources. If teacher were involved in such schemes, she said, community awareness-raising efforts on poaching and devastating forests had been in vain.

Azarias called for understanding of how environmental crimes had a direct impact on the lives of the population and the country in general, as where forest depletion results in climate change such as intense heat waves.