Wealthy Chinese syndicates are allegedly behind the illegal harvest of Mukula trees in Zambia and neighbouring countries, well-placed sources close to a regional investigation in the smuggling of the endangered tree species revealed.
They say the syndicate is using a named country in the SADC region as a conduit for exporting the illegally-harvested tree.
“They harvest most of the logs in south-eastern Angola, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, countries who have banned the export of raw Mukula logs and then transport it to a named country in the southern African region where they are taking advantage of a legal loophole there,” a source said.
The sources say an estimated 250 – 300 containers of raw Mukula logs are being sent to China every month. This represents a region-wide decimation of the resource whose monetary value is estimated at US$16 million per month.
Apparently, the smuggling route is the same used for trafficking rhino horn, ivory and other wildlife contraband.
Zambian President Edgar Lungu recently called in the army and barred the transportation of Mukula logs through Zambia from neighbouring countries to curb the illegal harvest and smuggling of the species.