Mozambique's rhinoceros population was wiped out more than a century ago by big game hunters. Reconstituted several years ago, it has again been driven to extinction, or to the brink of extinction, by poachers seeking their horns to sell in Asia. A leading rhino expert tells the AP that the last rhino in the southern African nation has now been killed. The warden in charge of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park—the only place where the horned behemoths lived in Mozambique—also blames poachers for wiping out the last of the rhinos. But Mozambique's conservation director believes a few may remain.
Elephants also could become extinct in Mozambique soon, the warden, Antonio Abacar, warns. He says game rangers have been aiding poachers, and 30 of the park's 100 rangers will appear in court soon. "We caught some of them red-handed while directing poachers to a rhino area," Abacar says. A game ranger arrested for helping poachers in Mozambique's northern Niassa Game Reserve said on Mozambican Television TVM last week that he was paid about $80 to direct poachers to areas with elephants and rhinos. Game rangers are paid between $64 and $96 a month, and though the guilty ones will lose their jobs, the courts serve as little deterrent to the poachers: Killing wildlife and trading in illegal rhino horn and elephant tusks are only misdemeanors in Mozambique. (Read more Mozambique stories.)