“I quit school at the age of 13 and started hunting full-time. It felt pointless carrying on at school, because there aren’t any jobs here anyway. But I’ve had enough now. Lots of poachers and rangers are getting killed. Poaching has to stop,” says Paulo, 16, who lives in a village near Limpopo National Park in Mozambique.
“People have always hunted here to survive. It’s a way of life, we are hunters. I think that’s why many continue to hunt even though it’s a crime. That’s how it is for me. Both my dad and my grandfather are hunters. I’m just doing what they do. I started hunting with my dogs in Limpopo National Park at the age of 10. Hunting with dogs is the traditional way to hunt here. I get up early, get my eleven dogs together – seven large and four small ones – and head out hunting with three of my friends. We hunt impala and other small animals. We have to keep an eye out all the time, so the rangers don’t discover us.”
“I’ll never forget one early morning when I was 14. We’d been tracking an impala and I sent the dogs after it. I was lying hidden in a thicket when I suddenly saw that the dogs were surrounded by rangers. They shot and killed three of my dogs to protect the impala. I ran as fast as I could and managed to get away. Several of my other dogs were injured and had rubber bullets in their bodies. But it’s far from the only time the rangers’ rubber bullets have scared us out of the park. And one of my friends, who is also 16, was arrested and ended up in prison for ten months.”
Paulo has hunted for both impala and waterbuck.
Villages with new houses are built outside of Limpopo National Park.
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