Mozambique's last rhinos wiped out by poachers

Photo / AP
Photo / AP

The last known rhinoceroses in Mozambique have been wiped out by poachers apparently working in cahoots with the game rangers responsible for protecting them.

The 15 threatened animals were shot dead for their horns last month in the Mozambican part of Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which also covers South Africa and Zimbabwe.

They were thought to be the last of an estimated 300 that roamed through the special conservation area when it was originally established as "the world's greatest animal kingdom" in a treaty that was signed by the three countries' presidents in 2002.

The latest deaths, and Mozambique's failure to tackle poaching, have prompted South African threats to re-erect fences between their reserves.

Wildlife authorities believe the poachers were able to track the rhinoceroses with the help of game rangers working in the Limpopo National Park, as the Mozambican side of the reserve is known.

A total of 30 rangers are due in court in the coming weeks, charged with collusion in the animals' deaths, according to the park's administrators.

Conservationists say the poorly paid rangers were vulnerable to corruption by organised poaching gangs.

Over the border in Kruger, the South African part of the transfrontier park, 180 rhinos have been killed so far this year, out of a national total of 249.

Last year, 668 rhinos were poached in South Africa, a 50 per cent increase over the previous year.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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