Group Suspected of Killing 39 Elephants This Year Alone

Early Morning Raid Results in Capture of Poaching Ring and Confiscation of Ivory and Guns

Wildlife Conservation Society Praises Joint Operation

Marrupa, Mozambique, Sept. 8, 2014 –
A significant arrest of six suspected poachers took place here on Sept. 7 in a joint operation conducted by the Mecula District police, Luwire scouts and Niassa National Reserve WCS scouts. The arrests resulted after a 10-month investigation informed by vital on-the-ground intelligence.

During the early morning raid, 12 tusks and two rifles were confiscated. Two of the tusks, 23 kilograms or 57 pounds each, were from an elephant about 40 years old. The worth of the tusks was estimated at well over U.S. $150,000. The suspects have been charged with such crimes as cooperating with poachers; illegal possession of firearms; participating in poaching; and organized crime. If convicted, all suspects face fines and jail time.

Officials estimated that this group of poachers has killed 39 elephants this year alone based on interviews with the suspects. In addition, this arrest is a major crack down on one of five well-organized groups suspected of poaching elephants in Niassa.

“This is an important raid that has shut down a group of poachers responsible for killing many of Niassa’s elephants” said Alastair Nelson, Director of the WCS Mozambique Program. “In this raid, we have arrested professional poachers, recovered weapons, ivory, ammunition, and gained additional information to crack down on poachers. This is the clear result of an important partnership between the Mozambique government, Luwire, Niassa National Reserve, and WCS. It is partnerships like this that will help us advance important efforts to protect Niassa’s elephants, promote security and governance, and secure national assets for the people of Mozambique.”

WCS President and CEO Cristian Samper, who is currently in Niassa, said: “With this arrest we have charged a shooter, porters and poacher informers who are driving the elephant crisis in Niassa Reserve.

“During a fly-over across a portion of the reserve, I personally witnessed an elephant that had been killed by poachers. The elephant was brought down with an AK-47. We need to combine our strategies and firepower to take on these brutal criminals. WCS extends its appreciation and congratulations to the Mozambique government, especially our partner, the National Administration of Conservation Areas and National Niassa Reserve Warden for their commitment to combat this crisis.

“This work on the ground is part of a three-part strategy to stop the killing of elephants and stop the trafficking and demand for ivory. To solve this crisis, we need to focus efforts in Africa and on the other end of the supply chain in places such as China and the U.S.”

It is estimated there are 13,000 elephants remaining in Niassa National Reserve which is located in northern Mozambique. The reserve holds Mozambique’s largest remaining population of elephants. WCS has been co-managing the reserve with the Mozambique government since 2012.