Police in Mozambique are reported to have seized a staggering 65 rhinos horns, together with 1.1 tonnes of elephant ivory.
One Asian national is said to have been arrested on the outskirts of the capital Maputo at a house where the stash was stored.
Official details from the case are awaited, but if the reports are confirmed, the 65 horns would make this the largest ever rhino horn seizure made anywhere during the current rhino poaching crisis that commenced in 2008.
The total is almost double that of the previous largest recorded haul, some 33 horns seized in Hong Kong in November 2011 coming from Cape Town hidden, together with elephant ivory, in a container declared as “plastic waste”.
“While authorities in Mozambique are to be warmly congratulated on this significant seizure, it is now absolutely vital for a full and thorough investigation to be carried out, both by enforcement authorities in Mozambique and with their counterparts in whichever Asian and other countries are implicated in this seizure,” said Tom Milliken, TRAFFIC’s rhino expert.
“The opportunity must not be squandered to exploit fully this unique opportunity for smashing an international rhino and ivory trafficking syndicate and we hope that INTERPOL will become involved.”
International criminal syndicates have long used Mozambique as a major hub for conducting illegal trade in wildlife, especially elephant ivory, rhino horn and South African abalone.
“Mozambique currently has the opportunity to be at the forefront of international efforts to tackle wildlife crime,” said Milliken.
“TRAFFIC hopes this huge and highly significant seizure and arrest signals a new chapter in Mozambique’s history of wildlife trade law enforcement.”