Recently a long-awaited MOU (memorandum of understanding) between South Africa and Mozambique was finalized. The big deal? This should affect rhino poaching.
A MOU is a signed formal agreement between two or more countries on how to handle a shared issue. In this case, the issue of poaching, or as formally stated “conservation and management” in Kruger Park.
Mozambique has been lax in anti-poaching laws and management, and of course many of the guilty parties in poaching the rhino in Kruger come from…yes – Mozambique. The border between the two countries is long and porous, with no official ability of “hot pursuit” allowed from South Africa rangers. This means a would-be poacher from MOZ can sneak into SA, kill a rhino, take off with the horn and even if chased, the poacher is safe once across the border.
In fact, there are settlements along the border in Mozambique referred to as “Poachers Alley”. They thrive on the money brought in from illegal poaching, and serve as an obvious place for buyers of horn to gain willing participants.
The initial discussion of a MOU was back in June of 2013. As with anything political, it’s been dragged out and re-negotiated. The final product, signed April 17th, is a display of cooperation and collaboration between the two countries.
The MOU main areas of cooperation are:
1.Biodiversity management, conservation and protection;
2.Promotion of biodiversity sustainable use as an integral part of conservation
3.Compliance with CITES and other relevant conventions and protocols
4. Biodiversity law enforcement;
5.Compliance with domestic frameworks and regional conventions and protocols;
6.Strengthen cooperation on the above through information exchange, intelligence, best practice and search.
7.Joint technology innovation, development and enhancement;
8.Wildlife trade, protected area management, community development through biodiversity economy and sustainable livelihoods;
9.Education, awareness and capacity building in biodiversity management, conservation, protection and law enforcement
In addition, the fence will be re-erected along the border and there will be a well-trained and armed anti-poaching unit for joint collaboration deployed. South Africa has committed R24.9 million from the R252 million Swedish and Dutch Postcode Lottery donation secured by the Peace Parks Foundation to Mozambique to assist with these anti-poaching efforts.
In 2013, 668 rhinos were killed (although the real number could be even higher). With no sign of slowing, a total of 294 rhinos have been killed this year, with at least 166 of them in Kruger National Park.
Will the MOU have any real, tangible effect?
Politics are too slow to keep up with the swift demise poaching is enacting on the rhino. It’s also more than a bit worrying that the country initiating the MOU to “curb poaching”, is the same one that wants to “legalize” horn trade. Perhaps the part of the MOU that’s Not on paper isn’t to stop poaching at all, but just slow it down a bit. Afterall, how DOES that work?
Please stop poaching our rhino. At least leave us a few. We’re not sure we necessarily want to SAVE them. But we do want to turn as much profit as we possibly can by enacting a legal trade. Once this happens, feel free to BUY as much horn as you’d like.
Your friends in SA
It’s difficult not to feel a bit skeptical and wary considering the present situation. Maybe we should count our lucky stars and be glad this happened at all. Just the fact these two countries are sitting down to discuss the crisis is worth something. Let’s hope its worth more than we think.