Maputo (AFP) – Police in Mozambique have seized 1.3 tonnes of elephant ivory & rhino horn — the equivalent of 235 dead animals — in the country's biggest ever find of illegal wildlife products, local media said Thursday.
A Chinese man was arrested on the outskirts of the capital Maputo at a house where the stash was stored, police said in a report published by the news agency AIM.
Illegal hunters from Mozambique are often armed by transnational crime syndicates to kill rhinos & elephants across the border in South Africa.
p>The police raid on Tuesday discovered 340 elephant tusks, weighing 1,160 kilogrammes, & 65 rhino horns, weighing 124 kilogrammes.
"Some of the tusks still have fresh blood, a sign that some of animals could have been killed recently," Emidio Mabunda, spokesman for the Maputo provincial police, said.
South Africa has been hit with a sharp rise in rhino poaching in recent years, with numbers at record levels this year despite renewed government efforts & the use of helicopters & anti-poaching dogs.
The 65 rhino horns seized were most likely hacked from animals slaughtered in the Kruger National Park.
Rhino horn is prized in Asia for its supposed medicinal properties in traditional cures for cancers, impotence & hangovers, while elephant ivory is highly valued in China & Thailand in artworks or jewellery.
The cache was reported to have a street value of approximately $6.3million.
Police hope that the Chinese man will lead them to the trafficking gang behind poaching.
They added the illegal goods was ready to be smuggled out the country.
"It should be destroyed to send a message to the world that… we are shifting to another level of intervention in the fight against poaching," prominent environmental activist Carlos Serra said.
Company Legal & Law Matterselephant ivoryMozambiquerhino hornMaputo