The perilous 1,000-mile journey to save Africa’s endangered black rhinos
28 Oct 2022
Protection forces from Mozambique and South Africa achieved a major success earlier this month, with the first joint operations conducted under a new anti-poaching initiative.
Operation Lebombo, as it is known, was the culmination of weeks of planning by Kruger National Park authorities and Mozambique law enforcement forces. The joint operational command included both Kruger and Limpopo national parks, as well as police, the border protection force, the newly-deployed environmental police and Twin City Ecotourismo from Mozambique.
The seven-day operation was mounted by a combined force of protection personnel from both sides of the border, including 12 field rangers from Limpopo National Park. Approximately 12 roadblocks were mounted in Limpopo National Park and the area around Massingir, which included the Twin City concession. A large calibre .458 rifle with five rounds of ammunition was seized, along with a 12-guage shotgun. Two poaching suspects transporting the weapons were arrested, and their two vehicles impounded. The operation also saw the seizure of 64 snares and a number of axes and knives belonging to bushmeat poachers, two of whom were arrested.
During a recent meeting between the environmental ministers of Mozambique and South Africa in Massingir, both ministers called on park authorities to develop a strategy for closer cross-border cooperation and joint operations in order to combat the alarming increase in rhino and elephant poaching. Operation Lebombo has shown just how effective this strategy can be, and by building on its success, will be only the first of many operations to come.
Story by Valdemar Casimiro
Limpopo National Park