14 years for rhino poaching

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MASVINGO — A Bikita man has been sentenced to an effective 14 years for tracking a rhino’s spoor in the Chipangayi Intensive Rhino Protection Zone with the intention of poaching.

Magistrate Oliver Mudzongachiso found Munhuhaashati Bungumupeye (35) from Shodzai Village under Chief Chamutsa in Bikita, guilty of a count of breaching the Parks and Wildlife Act, as well as unlawful possession of a gun and ammunition.

State counsel Tafirei Tandirei told the court that on March 5 this year, Bungumupeye, accompanied by an accomplice still at large, tracked down a rhinoceros to a watering hole around 7am until they were spotted by rangers who were on patrol.

The two tried to flee, but Bungumupeye was captured and arrested.

He was found in possession of a .303 rifle fitted with a silencer and three rounds of live ammunition.

For unlawful possession of a gun, Bungumupeye was slapped with three years and a further 11 years for unlawful possession of ammunition and hunting an endangered species.

Mudzongachiso said he had to impose a hefty sentence to deter like-minded people. Cases of rhino poaching are reportedly on the increase throughout the country.

Rhinos are an endangered species which now faces extinction.