SANParks welcomes first Mozambican rhino poaching conviction in over a decade
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Wednesday urged residents of Ponta do Ouro, in the southernmost district of Matutuine, to avoid starting uncontrolled bush fires, which threaten to destroy wild life, and also endanger investment in tourism.
Addressing residents of Ponta do Ouro, Nyusi said Matutuine is rich in tourism potential, notably because it contains the Maputo Special Reserve, with a wide variety of wild life.
But the president noted that, when he travelled past the reserve on his way to Ponta do Ouro, he saw that vast areas of land, which should be covered in vegetation, had been devoured by fires set by local people. Such fires are sometimes set to clear land for agriculture, and sometimes by poachers to drive animals, such as bush rats, regarded as a delicacy, into the open.
The bush fires “are a crime and a disgrace for this district”, declared Nyusi. The fires devour the plants on which the animals of the reserve depend. He urged his audience to understand that the wild life “is ours and we have to value it”.
He contrasted these fires with the conservation efforts in the Niassa Reserve, in the far north of Mozambique, where more than a year has passed without a single elephant being poached, thanks to the efforts of the game wardens and of units of the defence and security forces.
“But here, in Matutuiine district, we burn the homes of the animals in order to hunt bush rats. Where are the animals going to stay?”, asked the President.
He warned that animals driven out of their normal habitat by fire may invade the local farmers’ fields of maize and cassava, looking for something to eat.
Nyusi added that the indiscriminate removal of trees has an impact on climate change. Without vegetation cover, soils are prone to drought, leaving people with inadequate access to water.
He urged local and community leaders to mobilise people in the villages and localities to stop the practice of bush fires. Otherwise tourists and investors will be driven away, because nobody will invest in a place where everything may go up in flames the following day.Source: AIM