After rising to frightening levels in previous years, poaching in the Limpopo National Park has reduced in 2014. This is regardless of poaching still increasing in neighbouring Kruger National Park....
As part of its commitment to further bilateral cooperation with Mozambique in the war against wildlife crime, South Africa presented Mozambique with a donation of equipment to the value of R2 660 000 (MT 8 425 705) to aid in strengthening Mozambique’s environmental law enforcement efforts, and support the rangers and police corps who dedicate their efforts to the cause every day.
This contribution was made possible thanks to the Rhino Protection Programme (RPP) – a partnership between the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, South African National Parks, Peace Parks Foundation and Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife. The 5-year multi-faceted RPP is funded by the Dutch and Swedish postcode lotteries and other private donors.
In support of improved work conditions and enhanced patrol requirements, the Mozambique Environmental Police received equipment (i.e. backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, cookware and camp accessories, solar panels, cameras and computer equipment, bulletproof vests, reflective jackets, batons, GPS devices and first aid kits) from the RPP; as well as additional tents and clothing from Singita’s Garingani Game Reserve.
The Limpopo National Park – an integral part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park that also encompasses Kruger National Park in South Africa and Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe – received a brand new Savannah S Light Sport Aircraft with which to augment aerial counter-poaching and wildlife monitoring activities in the Park.
The Limpopo National Park field ranger corps also received a collection of equipment mainly aimed at appropriately equipping living quarters and offices at the new base camp to be erected in Massingir during the coming months – also funded by the RPP.
Director General of Mozambique’s National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC), Dr Bartolomeu Soto, expressed his joy in continued cooperation between the two countries: “We are appreciative of the support shown by South Africa through the Rhino Protection Programme towards our counter-poaching efforts, and in boosting the operational efficacy and morale of our law-enforcement forces through the generous contributions made today.”
Fundisile Mketeni, CEO of SANParks, added: “Mozambique and South Africa have joined forces through formalised agreements that provide strategic direction for cooperative biodiversity conservation and management. The conservation areas in each country, and in particular those that are shared – namely the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area – holds great potential to provide a safe home for not only rhino and elephant, but many other wildlife species, whilst providing numerous income generating opportunities for surrounding communities. We are excited about a shared vision with Mozambique of collaborating in efforts to intensify, accelerate and strengthen strategic anti-poaching operations; supporting the growth of a healthy eco-tourism industry; and facilitating the emergence of self-sustainable communities”.
Under the auspices of the Rhino Protection Programme, South Africa has been providing support to Mozambique’s conservation and counter-poaching efforts in Limpopo National Park through various projects over the past 12 months. This includes upgrades to infrastructure and facilities at Mapai Base and Gaza Camp; the presentation of guard and field ranger training in association with Southern African Wildlife College; and improved roads and access control at critical entry points to the park.
Most recently (October) the Rhino Protection Programme invested R 1 785 000 (MT 6 295 000) in the installation of an advanced digital communication system in Limpopo National Park. This system allows for encrypted, secure communication with much improved quality of sound and reliability. With advanced repeaters and radio systems deployed throughout the park, the new digital communications system overcomes problems with poor signal or so-called “dead-zones” that previously hampered alert and rapid response capabilities, and ensures that important conversations are not able to be intercepted by poachers. Furthermore, with the construction of a new repeater station located on the border between the two parks the system enables cross border communications between Limpopo National Park and Kruger National Park as part of Operation Capricorn. The system uses the latest technology and has a number of features that includes alarms to ensure system security and integrity; as well as position monitoring to improve the safety and operational capability of the field ranger unit.
“The partners in the Rhino Protection Programme are honoured to be able to offer support to the men and women who fight at the frontlines of the poaching war in Mozambique each day,” said Peace Parks Foundation CEO, Werner Myburgh. “Mozambique has displayed great commitment towards combatting wildlife crime and protecting biodiversity, as evident in the implementation of its new conservation law, as well as the introduction of the Environmental Police as a dedicated instrument for enforcing the new regulations. We congratulate Mozambique on these significant milestones reached.”