The Entreposto Group of Portugal has donated $125 000 to fund the training of Anti-Poaching Unit (APU) patrols in the Gorongosa National Park in central Mozambique.
Last month the parks Administrator, Mateus Mutemba, signed an anti-poaching agreement with representatives of the Entreposto group.
In terms of the agreement, vehicle group Entreposto will fund the training of the park’s 120 game rangers. The agreement covers a five year period and will see $5 000 being disbursed every year. Entreposto Group director Jose Cardoso said his company has made a long-term commitment to professionalising the Gorongosa APU as part of a programme to help game rangers in vulnerable game parks to make a meaningful contribution to the national anti-poaching campaign.
He said the money will be used to acquire a new patrol boat to enable game rangers to operate on the numerous lakes and waterways which make up the park. It will also fund advanced ranger training programmes.
The rest will be used to buy firearms, uniforms, boots and two-way military communication radios for the APU. Mutemba said the park has also acquired a single aircraft for as part of measures to boost aerial anti-poaching operations last year.
Last year, rangers in Gorongosa arrested 250 poachers and seized more than 180 home-made guns from poachers found in the park last year. A total of 3 300 snares and traps were recovered while only three elephants were killed by poachers.
“Year after year we register a growth in the number of poaching incidents. Last year we arrested about 250 poachers. There is a recurring trend (among locals) to manufacture these weapons and use them in poaching.
“We intend to improve our capacity to confront the poachers. We have a force of 120 men who are protecting the Park day and night but we need to step up their training and improve the equipment they use,” Mutemba said.
Commercial poaching of rhino and elephants has not yet reached crisis level in Gorongosa despite being more pronounced in the Niassa and Gaza National Parks to the south.
Together with South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia, Mozambique is losing hundreds of elephants and rhinos to sophisticated poaching syndicates, most of which are increasingly militarized and make use of helicopters to get ivory and horns which are then sold in Asian and Middle Eastern nations.