Ivory poach­ing ‘king­pin’ ar­rested in Mozam­bique

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

MAPUTO: Mozam­bi­can and Tan­za­nian au­thor­i­ties have made a ma­jor break­through with the ar­rest of an al­leged no­to­ri­ous leader of an ivory poach­ing network.

The sus­pected king­pin, Mateso Al­bana Kasian, has been wanted for years for the slaugh­ter of thou­sands of ele­phants in both coun­tries.

His ar­rest in Mozam­bique fol­lows joint op­er­a­tions by the Na­tional Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Con­ser­va­tion Ar­eas and Tan­za­nia’s Na­tional and Transna­tional Se­ri­ous Crimes In­ves­ti­ga­tion Unit. In­ves­ti­ga­tors re­ceived sup­port from con­ser­va­tion groups who col­lab­o­rated to track the sus­pect’s move­ments since 2014.

The al­leged crime spree dates to 2012. Kasian al­legedly man­aged at least seven armed poach­ing gangs in south­ern Tan­za­nia in 2013 and moved his op­er­a­tions to north­ern Mozam­bique the next year.

In 2014, fol­low­ing the high-pro­file ar­rest of a pro­fes­sional ivory poach­ing gang in Mozam­bique, in­ves­ti­ga­tors un­cov­ered ev­i­dence link­ing Kasian to poach­ing and traf­fick­ing of over three tons of ivory that year alone.

The de­tained poach­ers con­fessed to work­ing for him and claimed he op­er­ated other gangs in the re­serve.

Poach­ing op­er­a­tions in Africa have grown in­creas­ingly so­phis­ti­cated with in­jec­tions of large amounts of cash from for­eign ivory traf­fick­ers.

Ele­phant pop­u­la­tions have fallen as a re­sult. Since 2011, Ni­assa Na­tional Re­serve’s ele­phant pop­u­la­tion has de­clined from 12 000 to 3 600.

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