At least seven poachers have been shot dead in armed confrontation with Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority (ZimParks) rangers since the beginning of the year as the crackdown on illegal hunting intensifies.
Source: ZimParks declares war on poachers | The Sunday Mail Sep 24, 2017
This year alone, 416 people have been arrested for poaching while 92 suspected illegal hunters escaped arrest.
The latest arrests took place in Harare last week when a Zimbabwe National Army officer was found with an elephant tusk after falling into a trap set by Parks officials and the police. During the same week, eight people were arrested in poaching-related crimes, including a man who was found with a live pangolin in Gokwe.
According to statistics from the wildlife authority, of the 416 poachers, 396 were locals. ZimParks rangers also recovered 19 riffles, 71 rounds of ammunition, 285 snares and 50 boats during the anti-poaching operations.
ZimParks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo said the bulk of the incidents occurred in the northern region of the country.
He said: “We will continue to fight against this menace in an effort to protect our wildlife heritage which is under threat as a result of these illegal activities.
“We are calling upon all corporates and individuals to join hands with us to fight poaching. It is in the interests of the country to protect our wildlife heritage.
“While the loss of life is regrettable, we have a mandate to protect our wildlife as well as our rangers from any harm which at times results in the use of lethal force.
“We have declared war on poachers and we are warning would-be poachers that they will be dealt with accordingly without fear or prejudice.”
In 2013, poachers killed more than 300 elephants and countless other safari animals after a cyanide poisoning incident in Hwange National Park.
The deaths sparked international outrage. Conservationists described the incident as the worst single massacre of wildlife in Southern Africa in the past 25 years.