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The Judicial Court of Maputo Province has sentenced a man who led a group of poachers in Mozambican and South African conservation areas to 30 years in prison the Mozambican ministry of land and environment announced on Tuesday.
The defendant, Admiro Chaúque, “led a gang of poachers operating in Magude and Massingir districts and the Kruger National Park in South Africa,” the ministry said in a statement issued today.
The man was convicted of the crimes of poaching, illegal possession of weapons and association to commit offences, the ministry said in a statement, noting that he had also been sentenced to pay a fine of 1% of minimum wage for 28 years.
The accused was arrested on 3 May 2021, “when he was returning from an attempt to hunt rhinoceros for the second time illegally”.
According to the document, the authorities first questioned the man on 18 January 2020, when he was with other defendants at a traditional doctor to treat an injured companion.
“This is an enforcer of poaching and an organiser of criminals for this activity,” the ministry said, adding that the group was engaged in trafficking rhino horn, which was then sent to Asian markets, particularly China and Vietnam.
According to the ministry, on Monday, a man was also sentenced by the Mozambican courts to nine years in prison for setting mechanical traps in the Maputo National Park.
According to official data, poaching in Mozambique has been a serious threat to wildlife, having drastically reduced some species.
According to the latest data from the National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC), the country has lost at least ten thousand elephants since 2009. In the Niassa Reserve alone, the total number of these species fell from 12,000 to 4,400 in three years (between 2011 and 2014).
More recent reports indicate that the country lost 48% of its elephant population between 2011 and 2016.