Last week, the justice department in Mozambique successfully convicted and sentenced two poachers for killing two rhinos in the Limpopo National Park in that country.

The two poachers, from the Mapai District in the Gaza Province, were sentenced to 16 and 17 years in prison respectively. For the crimes of slaughtering protected animals, the illegal possession of unlicensed weapons, and unlawful possession of ammunition.

The sentencing also included compensation to the Park for damages caused.

The historical conviction and sentence are the first in Mozambique since the scourge of rhino poaching emerged in 2008, leading to a memorandum of understanding between South Africa and Mozambique to counter illegal wildlife crime.

The investigation, which led to the arrests and convictions, was conducted in collaboration with the South African National Parks Environmental Crime Investigative Unit in Phalaborwa. Notably, this was the first conviction and sentencing of individuals involved with rhino poaching in Mozambique since 2008.

Hopefully, this move signals the start of a much more robust law enforcement policy and approach in Mozambique.

The Limpopo National Park, along with the Kruger and Gonarezhou National Parks in South Africa and Zimbabwe respectively, form what is known as the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. As a result, matters regarding wildlife crime in one country or Park have a significant impact on the other stakeholders. More so than if there was simply a shared national border.

Greater collaboration and more successful arrests, prosecutions and convictions across the Great Limpopo will see a general reduction in incidences of poaching regionally. Given that the Transfrontier Park is one of the world's most essential rhino strongholds, such progress is critical.