Outcry over elephants killings in Mozambican sugar plant
CONSERVATION and animal activists have demanded an inquiry and called for answers from Mozambique authorities and multinational sugar giant Tongaat Hulett after four elephants were slaughtered in broad daylight at its Xinavane sugar plantation in Mozambique on Tuesday.
The killings sparked an outrage from hundreds of Mozambicans social networkers whose voices joined others across the world. Their internet protests could be heard from Maputo to Moscow.
Four elephants were killed at the Xinavane plantations, operated by multinational sugar giant and agri-company Tongaat Hulett.
Unconfirmed reports indicate the animals were shot by more than 100 AK-47 rounds unleashed by an official from the wildlife department of the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Mozambique High Commission police attache in Pretoria, Zacarias Cossa, said he had not been informed of the incident, but promised to investigate.
Images posted on Facebook showed the carcasses being skinned and butchered, with frenzied workers crowding around and standing atop the dead pachyderms.
The tusks, trunks, tails and feet had all been carefully separated and loaded onto a bakkie.
It is not known what has happened to their ivory tusks, worth thousands of dollars on the international black market.
Carlos Carvalho, administrator of the Mozinfo website, said the sugar plantations are in the middle of an ancient elephant migration route.
Speaking from a meeting with conservation judicial and agricultural officials in Mozambique, Carvalho said it was imperative no more elephants were killed, and that authorities needed to find a better way to resolve any human-wildlife conflict.
“We have also called for an inquiry and answers from both Mozambique authorities and Tongaat Hulett.
“We want to know how this incident occurred, and expect answers,” Carvalho said.
A Tongaat Hulett employee who spoke to the Star said: “We have not seen elephants around here for many years.
“We are not certain where these elephants came from, and now some people are very angry.”
She was not certain who shot the elephants.
Last week, the Mail & Guardian reported how poach- ers were using the company’s Massitonto concession corporate cane-lands at as an open “highway” from Mozambique into the Kruger National Park to kill rhinos.
“A record 54 poachers were arrested in the Kruger in October and many used this route through Tongaat Hulett’s land to get into the game reserve from Mozambique.
“Despite many meetings and communications between Kruger officials and Tongaat Hulett management in Mozambique, the situation has continued to escalate” the M&G reported.
According to a company employee at Xhinavane, the company’s operations manager at Xinavane, Tony Ferronah, was “fuming mad”.
“He is not available to speak to the media right now. He has been tied up in meetings with staff members and Mozambican authorities most of the day,” she said.
Tongaat Hulett acquired interests in two mills and cane estates in Mozambique in 1998.