Police in Mozambique said Thursday they had seized 1.3 tonnes of elephant ivory and rhino horn — the result of killing about 200 animals — in the country’s biggest ever find of illegal wildlife products. An Asian man was arrested on the outskirts of the capital Maputo at a house where the stash was stored.
Rhinos are extinct in Mozambique, but hunters from the country are often armed by transnational crime syndicates to kill rhinos and elephants across the border in South Africa. The police raid on Tuesday discovered 340 elephant tusks, weighing 1,160 kilogrammes, and 65 rhino horns, weighing 124 kilogrammes.
“The man lived alone in the house for three months and hid his illegal activity by pretending to be involved in tin can recycling,” Emidio Mabunda, spokesman for the Maputo provincial police, said.
“Some of the tusks still have fresh blood, a sign that some of animals could have been killed recently Mabunda clarified earlier reports that the man was Chinese, says he was Asian but his nationality was not confirmed.
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 and the use of helicopters and anti-poaching dogs. The 65 rhino horns seized were most likely hacked from animals slaughtered in the Kruger National Park.