Out­cry over ele­phants killings in Mozam­bi­can sugar plant

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

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.

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