A Mozambican poaching kingpin has two reporters arrested and threatened with torture and death.
February 23, 2015 By John R. Platt
John R. Platt covers the environment, technology, philanthropy, and more for Scientific American, Conservation, Lion, and other publications.
Two international journalists who traveled to Mozambique last week to investigate rhino poaching instead found themselves arrested and threatened with torture, rape, and death.
“We were almost certain we were not going to survive,” said Swedish photojournalist Torbjörn Selander, who is in Mozambique with German reporter Bartholomäus Grill on assignment for Der Spiegel magazine.
The reporters went to the village of Mavodze on Feb. 16, hoping to interview a local kingpin who is said to control at least 10 teams of poachers in the region and is wanted by Interpol on suspicion of murder in South Africa. “Other journalists have met the kingpin, but I think someone has put pressure on them, and they are quite nervous now,” Selander said.
Just two days before the journalists arrived in Mavodze, the government of Mozambique pledged to take immediate action to eliminate illegal rhino poaching and trade in rhino horns. It is not known if this influenced the situation last week. The embassy of Mozambique did not respond to requests for comment for this article.