One country may already be turning the table on traffickers. On June 20, Mozambique passed a law that mandates a prison term of 8 to 12 years for poaching of endangered species. In the past, such poachers often escaped with a fine. The new law is a significant change of course for Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest countries and one in which local police and politicians themselves are thought to be frequent participants in wildlife trafficking operations. Of late, Mozambique has been feeling pressure from neighboring Tanzania and South Africa to crack down on poachers who cross the border into those latter two countries to kill elephants and rhinos.
A recently nabbed gang of poachers could soon feel the sting of the new law. On September 7, Mozambique officials arrested six men in Niassa National Reserve, on the border with Tanzania. The gang’s primary marksman admitted during questioning to having killed 39 elephants this year in the reserve. This time, they were caught red-handed with a dozen ivory tusks—the largest of which are believed to have come from an elephant at least 40 years old.