Chinese flee Mozambique over ivory smuggling

by Jun 7, 2011Ivory

Maputo – Two employees of a Chinese company have fled Mozambique after police stopped the smuggling of 166 elephant tusks and other animal parts, state media reported on Tuesday.

The manager and a machine operator for Chinese firm Tienhe returned to their home country after authorities discovered 161 containers of unprocessed timber at Pemba port in northernmost province Cabo Delgado, according to Noticias newspaper.

Elephant ivory, excrement and internal organs, as well as pangolin scales were found hidden between the wood in some containers, implicating Chinese company Miti, the largest logging company in the province.

Miti denied all responsibility and launched a court case against partner company Tienhe for the crime, prompting the two workers to flee the country.

“Here we are, and all we know is that we’ve been betrayed with the deepest betrayal possible,” the owner of the Mozambican division of Miti, Faruk Jamal, told the newspaper.

Ivory smuggling and illegal logging are constant problems in the southern African country, where corruption among customs officials is easy in the relatively undeveloped north.

In January, Thai authorities seized 73 elephant tusks that were smuggled out of Mozambique.