The directors of Limpopo National Park (PNL) in Mozambique have announced that rhinos are extinct there due to poachers who traffic the animals’ horns to the Chinese and Vietnamese markets, with collusion from park rangers.
Park director António Abacar said this week that no rhinos had been seen since January “which means that the ones that lived in the park are probably dead”.
The last park census in 2011 still found a few animals but their extinction has meant poachers are now turning to elephants which are being shot in greater numbers. “Our greatest problem is that some of our workers are involved in poaching” Abacar told reporters and 30 employees were currently being disciplined.
The park covers an area of 1.1 million hectares.
The park is part of the Cross-border Great Limpopo Park which also covers the South African Kruger Park and the Gonarezhou Park in Zimbabwe.
The ease with which poachers get into PNL, and from there into the other parks, led South Africa to threaten to reinstall fences between the parks.
Since 2008 the South African police and army have killed 279 Mozambicans involved in poaching while another 300 were arrested.