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Safari operator up for theft

Local News
THE trial of a safari operator charged with stealing motion cameras that were left at bait commenced yesterday.

THE trial of a safari operator charged with stealing motion cameras that were left at bait commenced yesterday.

William Terrence Kelly, the managing director of Suscaden Investments, a company that owned Fishery Concession in the Zambezi Valley was being represented by Everson Chatambudza when he appeared before Harare magistrate Appolonia Marutya.

The State alleges that on September 8, 2017, Kelly's company signed a lease agreement with the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Parks Authority) for operating safari tourism activities.

It is alleged on August 10, 2023, a professional hunter Clifton Walker submitted a hunting permit to  kill a lion and a leopard in the Big five Concession (Chewore North).

On the same date, Walker was assigned a Parks Authority game ranger to guide him in abiding by the permit.

The professional hunter killed a hippopotamus and set baits at strategic points with the guidance of rangers.

Walker allegedly also set up a motion sensor camera to the hanging bait.

It is alleged that on August 15, 2023, the accused unlawfully entered the safari area where Walker had set the bait, chopped down the hanging bait and took the motion sensor camera with its 32GB memory card.

On the same date, Walker, his colleague Luis Muller and ranger Shingirai Sitima proceeded to the bait site and discovered the theft.

Walker later made a police report leading to the discovery of the gadgets from the accused person.

In court yesterday, Kelly denied the charges saying the place where the offence is alleged to have occurred  is a no-hunting area and is leased to his company.

Kelly submitted that in terms of the lease agreement entered into by Parks Authority and his company in September 2017, hunting is not permitted in the leased area, and the company has to ensure that no hunting takes place.

He submitted that there has been illegal hunting within the area leased to Suscaden.

He claimed to have reported the illegal hunting to authorities.

Kelly said he recovered the camera sensor as an exhibit and sent it to Parks Authority.

He said Parks Authority officers refused to accept the camera, but went on to report him at Kanyemba Police Station where he was charged.

He said the matter was referred to Guruve Magistrates Court and the National Prosecuting Authority of Zimbabwe declined to prosecute.

The trial continues.

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