A JOINT blitz by police officers and rangers from the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) led to the arrest of 443 suspected poachers, with 57 convicted and sentenced last year alone.
BY PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
In a statement yesterday, ZimParks spokesperson, Caroline Washaya-Moyo said the convicts received a minimum jail term of seven years each.
“The year 2016 witnessed an upward increase in the number of wildlife poaching cases that were concluded resulting in cumulative sentences of 513 years passed against 57 convicted persons,” she said.
Washaya-Moyo said 211 cases were investigated during the year, with 116 being concluded.
“A total of 443 people were arrested in the 211 reported cases. The culprits included a majority Zimbabweans, 31 Zambians, seven nationals from Mozambique and a single South African,” she said.
The authority said it had made significant recoveries following the arrests, which included 76 tusks, 179 pieces of ivory, 36 live pangolins, 8 pangolin trophies and 22 firearms.
The wildlife authority is worried about the growing trend of international poaching syndicates working in cahoots with locals living close to the wildlife sanctuaries.
“Mozambican poaching groups target Gonarezhou National Park and Save Valley Conservancy, where they poach elephants. It has now emerged that most of the poaching taking place inland is being perpetrated by syndicate members of different groups, who are hired to form one larger organised gang,” Washaya-Moyo said.
“The introduction of modern anti-poaching strategies, such as the use of drones, sniffer and tracker dogs, shall go a long way in combating poaching and illegal wildlife trade in our protected areas and at our border points,” she said.