TWO suspected poachers were gunned down and others injured and arrested during a contact with police, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) game rangers and wardens from the Bubye Valley Conservancy last week.
BY REX MPHISA
Unconfirmed reports also said two game rangers were shot in friendly fire and are hospitalised in Bulawayo.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the death of the two poachers.
One of them has since been identified as Godfrey Makechemu.
“I can confirm two suspects died and another two were arrested after a shoot-out. The Zimbabwe Republic Police and a team from Zimparks and other stakeholders responded to fire from the suspected poachers, resulting in the two being killed,” he said.
The poachers had been driven into a trap near Jopembe Primary School, some 50km north west of Beitbridge, where they tried to flee in a Toyota Wish vehicle.
It is understood the poachers drove into a tribe of goats and hit three before losing control of the vehicle.
A shoot-out ensued as the poachers tried to desert the damaged vehicle, but they were outnumbered by the law enforcement agents.
“They wailed as they were being hit and at least one or two were injured from friendly fire,” the witness said.
Zimparks officials are said to have been hospitalised at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo.
“I am yet to confirm that. It is part of our investigations,” Nyathi said.
Poachers and robbers have laid siege on Beitbridge, where they are believed to be jumping the border into South Africa after a hit.
Poachers are raiding the Bubye Valley Conservancy, targeting black rhinos translocated from the Zambezi Valley after similar raids blamed on Zambians.
Government and other stakeholders have been running a successful black rhino breeding project in the conservancy, but of late, the threat of poachers has increased.
Nyathi said the dead suspects had pending court cases related to rhino-poaching.
“We urge the community to report the presence of poachers. The people are also advised to desist from poaching,” he said.
Of late, law enforcement agents and anti-poaching units have made gains against poachers, with at least six killed in Beitbridge in the recent past.