CORRECTION OF POACHING STATISTICS

Massingir, 10 June 2013 (PNL) – Recent media reports have claimed that an estimated 300 rhino have been killed by wildlife criminals in Limpopo National Park (LNP), with 15 being poached during the past month. This statement is not correct. When LNP was proclaimed in November 2001, there was no wildlife in the park. From 2001 to 2008, as part of developing the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP), almost 5 000 animals of various species were translocated from Kruger National Park (KNP) to LNP. Included in these translocations, was a total of 12 white rhino. The number of rhino in the park is not fixed, as the animals move freely between KNP and LNP where the border fence has been dropped. Nevertheless, there is a small number of rhino in the Park at any given moment, given the low density of rhino in the 50 km stretch where the fence was removed. Disciplinary measures are being taken against four rangers who have been found to have aided poachers, not 30, as was reported. 

 Dropping approximately 50km of the border fence between KNP and LNP has resulted in more than 1 000 elephant and more than 1 000 buffalo crossing the border of their own accord, thereby providing substantive evidence of the success of the Transfrontier Park for animal migration. Additionally, elephant collaring research has recorded a healthy movement of the animals between the three components (Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe) of the Transfrontier park. An on-going carnivore research programme has furthermore identified 12 adult and eight dependent cheetahs in the central region of LNP, unexpectedly positive news for the survival of this species. The estimate is that there are 30 adult cheetahs in the park, which is impressive for a park still in a growth phase and compared to the approximately 200 cheetah in KNP.

 With almost two rhino being killed in KNP every day, LNP recognises the critical role it has to play to stem the slaughter, which poses a real threat to the future of both the GLTP and LNP. Over the past three months, the protection unit has had increasing anti-poaching successes with the expectation of further positive results following the recent securing of additional funding for rifles and patrol equipment, as well as for increased joint operations and training with KNP. In accordance with Mozambican law, 50% of fines levied against poachers accrue to the field rangers involved in the operations. This law serves to support funding for conservation areas, while at the same time serving as an incentive and reward for field rangers. Additionally, LNP welcomes the arrival of its new protection coordinator, Mr Francisco Vasco Faustino, as well as the return of Mr Jose Zavale, who has been appointed as the protection section leader for the northern region.

The voluntary resettlement programme will ensure that the park’s core zone is fully protected. The programme entails relocating 7 000 people residing in the park, with the first 1 000 people successfully relocated in 2012. LNP provides an environment for wildlife and tourism growth in the GLTP and is in the process of creating a fully protected eastern buffer for KNP of up to 70 km wide.

 LIMPOPO NATIONAL PARK HAS ANTI POACHING SUCCESS

Massingir, 10 June  2013 (PNL) – Over the past 3 months Limpopo National Park has had increasing anti-poaching successes with 14 poachers and 3 rifles captured in the year to date. These successes have resulted in fines issued by the local court systems to an amount of 806,000Mt (est R270,000). The Park received a total of 540,000Mt from poaching fines during 2012. In accordance with Mozambican laws, the fines are payable to the Park of which 50% accrue to Field Rangers who were involved in the operations. This law serves to both support funding for conservation areas as well as to reward and incentivize Field Rangers.

 Anti-poaching successes to date have included: During May month, acting on information from Kruger National Park field rangers, a patrol seized an AK47 rifle in a raid on a suspected poacher camp near the KNP boundary in the north of the Park. During the same month a routine road block in the Park Buffer Zone resulted in the arrest of 3 poachers after a .458 hunting rifle was found in the vehicle in which they were travelling. The poachers were allegedly on route to poach rhino in Kruger’s Pafuri region.

On the morning of Tuesday 4th June 2013, 2 poachers were encountered on the Mozambican side of the border just north of Giriyondo. The poachers were understood to be returning from a rhino poaching excursion in Kruger National Park.

Following an exchange of fire, 1 poacher was wounded in the leg and subsequently arrested. A follow up operation on the same day resulted in the arrest of 2 further poachers and the confiscation of 458 hunting rifle. All 3 poachers were resident in villages that are included in the Parks resettlement programme. The 3 poachers have been formally charged through the Massingir courts and a fine of 290,000Mt (approx. R100,000) has been set. The poachers have 15 days to settle the fine or face imprisonment.

 On 9th June 2013 a planned patrol in the Gaza Safaris region encountered a poaching team on route to Kruger. On contact the poachers fled into the thick bush and a hunting rifle was seized.

PARQUE NACIONAL DO LIMPOPO NEW FIELD RANGER BASE OPERATIONAL

Massingir, 03 June 2013 (PNL) – Jointly funded by Afd and KfW donor funding the construction of the Parks’ new Field Ranger base at Mapai Gate was completed in late 2012. The base was constructed by the Parks’ infrastructure team and includes 16 separate accommodation rooms, a north region operational office and stores room as well as a central meeting and training room.

 The base (picture bottom right) will function primarily as the North region protection operations base supporting the regions anti-poaching operations from Pafuri in the north to the Park central regions. The base also provides a support base for other management and community department activities in the north region. The bases secondary function is to function as a training venue with two training courses having already been successfully completed. Late last year 2 groups of 20 field rangers received Field Ranger refresher training which was facilitated through the South African Wildlife College and in March 2013, through the Parks Community department, a group of Field Rangers and Community extensionists received Human Wildlife Conflict training at the base.

 DIOMBA INAUGURATES THE NEW LNP 56KM SOUTH EASTERN BARRIER FENCE

Massingir, 28 June 2013 (LNP) On 28th June, the Governor of Gaza Province, Raimundo Diomba , opened the new LNP 56km South Eastern barrier fence at a ceremony held at Massingir gate. Massingir Gate is the south western fence corner of the fence from where the fence runs a distance of 56km up to the Limpopo River forming the boundary between the Parks’ Core Zone and South Eastern Buffer Zone.. In support of conservation objectives the fence will restrict access into the Core Zone while also benefiting the communities as the fence will act as a primary barrier against Human Wildlife Conflict. The fence is also aligned with the Parks ongoing resettlement programme with the majority of relocated communities moving to the protected South Eastern Buffer Zone where the Shingwedzi, Elefantes and Limpopo rivers offers continuation of the communities sustainable subsistence livelihoods To date the resettlement programme has transferred over 100 of the 1,200 families residing in the Parks’ core zone.

 

These articles are an extract from the official newsletter “Shinguedzi”, published by Parque Nacional do Limpopo, in July 2013.  To receive the PNL newsletter, please ask Antony Alexander (antonyalexander01@gmail.com) to add your name to the subscriber list.