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The management of the Gile National Reserve, in the central Mozambican province of Zambezia, has suspended three game wardens, suspected of complicity in the poaching of three elephants last year, according to a report in Friday’s issue of the independent daily “O Pais”.
“They have been suspended and disciplinary proceedings have begun”, said the administrator of the Reserve, Jose Dias. “At the same time criminal proceedings will be opened at the district branch of the Public Prosecutor’s Office. They haven’t been summoned yet, and the case is still being handled internally”.
Dias was angered at what he regarded as the lenient handling of poachers by the courts. He said that a poacher had been caught in the illegal possession of three firearms, believed to have been used in the killing of the three elephants. But the man was released on payment of bail.
“After he was released, he rang up members of the reserve’s staff and threatened them”, said Dias. “I am scared because I too am at risk and could be shot”.
Dias believed that bail should not be made available for people accused of the illegal possession and carrying of firearms.
The Zambezia provincial timber associations warn that large amounts of precious hardwoods are still being taken out of the Gile Reserve by illegal loggers, and blamed Chinese interests for this (although, under legislation passed late last year, no unprocessed logs can be exported from Mozambican ports).
A spokesperson for the timber associations, Inocencio Taibo, declared “the great potential of Zambezia is being lost, and we must focus on preserving our resources. The Chinese partners are now dictating the rules of the game, and this is damaging us”.Source: AIM