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About a ton and a half of elephant tusks and rhino horns were seized by the Mozambican police in the city of Matola, Maputo province, last Tuesday. The apprehended lot consists on 340 ivory tusks, weighing 1,160kg, and 65 rhino horns, weighing 124kg. 

© Janine Mare

Police estimates indicate that, in order to extract this amount of ivory tusks and rhino horns, 235 animals must have been slaughtered: 170 elephants and 65 rhinos.

The illegal merchandise was seized in a type-3 house, in a condominium in the Tchumene neighbourhood, in Matola, and it was ready to be smuggled out of the country, reports ‘O País’.

Police say it is the largest seizure ever of ivory tusks and rhino horns in history.

The operation was conducted by 20 police officers of different specialties, and included a team from the Ministry of Agriculture, specifically from the area of Forests and Wildlife, who have inspected the goods.

“Undoubtedly, this is a case that is related to poaching. Some of the ivory tusks still have fresh blood, a sign that some animals may have been recently victimised, “said the spokesman for PRM in the province of Maputo, Emidio Mabunda.

A Chinese citizen was arrested in this residence in Tchumene, but the police did not reveal his identity.

In his address yesterday, Mabunda revealed that the seizure was the result of police counter-intelligence work. “This is one of the biggest achievements that the police had this year in the Maputo province. There is currently ongoing work in order to determine where these horns and tusks came from, where were they going and for what purpose. At this time, a citizen of Chinese origin, who was owner of the goods, has been detained. Other instances of the justice administration are working to clarify the case,” he said.

Emidio Mabunda also said that processed ivory pieces were seized in the residence, but it is unknown if the product was processed there. “We have some pieces that come from ivory processing. What remains to be seen is whether this product was processed here or a finished product was brought in. We talk a lot about poaching, and this is the result of that. This is our economy.” he said.

When asked about the owner of the residence where the Chinese citizen lived, Emidio Mabunda said that the owner is an honest citizen who has activity in the construction area.

“This house was identified on Monday. On Tuesday, we arrested the resident and seized the horns and ivory tusks,” he said.

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