By Adrian Frey – Club of Mozambique
The announcement on Monday of events celebrating Mozambique’s National Administration of Conservation Areas’ eighth birthday on Saturday, June 1, formed the backdrop for the revelation that Niassa Special Reserve, the country’s largest, is also celebrating a milestone – a year without a single elephant dying at the hand of poachers.
The ANAC noted in the statement a “significant reduction in elephant poaching in the country, especially in the Niassa National Reserve, which has completed one year without elephants being slaughtered by poachers”.
The ANAC celebrations come at a time when the institution is focussing on “improving management capacity, combating poaching, promoting self-sustainability in the management of conservation areas, and sharing economic benefits with local communities”.
The celebrations will take place at the Maputo Ponta do Ouro Special Marine Reserve, where the organisation will host gatherings of elementary school students for rides and lectures on wildlife.
“ANAC hopes these celebrations will increase the level of awareness of society in general, and of the communities who live in and around conservation areas in particular, of the importance of protecting biodiversity,” it announced.
ANAC figures indicate that, since 2009, the country has lost at least 10,000 elephants. In the Niassa Reserve, the country’s largest protected area, the total number of elephants fell from 12,000 to 4,400 in the three years between 2011 and 2014.
More recent reports indicate that, between 2011 and 2014, Niassa National Reserve lost almost 60% of the elephant population. In a countrywide basis, the loss was of 48%, risking the country being banned from international trade in animal products, due to lack of clarity in wildlife management.
A team of the Police Rapid Intervention Unit (UIR) was deployed to the Niassa Reserve to support public prosecutors in combating wildlife poaching, at the request of the Ministry of Land, Environment and Rural Development (MITADER) to the President of the Republic.
After visiting Niassa Reserve in November 2018, President Nyusi supported the presence of the UIR special forces for a further year, within which they should play a role training the rangers of the Reserve to continue the protection of elephants.
The Special forces (UIR) work hand to hand with the rangers in various locations and have created a very strong alliance to combat poaching.
The ANAC manages seven Mozambican parks, an equal number of reserves, and four cross-border joint management areas, which together account for 5,500 plant species, 220 mammal species and 690 bird species.