Mayhem at Matopos National Park

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TWO rhinos at Matopos National Park were discovered killed with their horns hacked off by suspected poachers as renewed attacks against the endangered species sparked outrage from environmentalists still smarting from the cyanide poisoning of elephants in the Hwange National Park.

NJABULO NCUBE
DEPUTY EDITOR

The two rhinos, one estimated at over 50 years known as Swazi and another aged 10, were suspected to have been killed last Thursday.

Investigations by Southern Eye yesterday established that the Parks and Wildlife Management of Zimbabwe (Zimparks) had commandeered crack rangers from Hwange National Park and Matopos National Park in desperate attempts to trace the poachers thought to be highly sophisticated.

Sources said the two animals were killed on Thursday. The same sources added that Zimparks officials were unsure whether the culprits were a local, regional or international syndicate. There were suspicious the syndicate could be from South Africa.

“There is a big follow-up, Parks are on it. Rangers have been brought in from Hwange and Bulawayo,” a source familiar with the incident said.

Environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere was not immediately available for comment yesterday. However, David Coltart, a former minister in the past coalition government and a wildlife enthusiast, expressed outrage about the poaching of two rhinos in the Matopos.

“This is a national outrage. I hope that the minister responsible for our national parks will get on a plane and fly to Bulawayo to find out what has happened and what measures we need to take to protect this unique national resource,” Coltart said.

Kasukuwere and a coterie of government minister have chartered planes to tour Hwange National Park in recent weeks in the wake of the death of more than 300 elephants poisoned by poachers.

Coltart added: “It would be good if the Tourism minister (Walter Mzembi) flew down with him (Kasukuwere) as our rhinos will increasingly become a magnet for tourists the scarcer they get in the world. My heart goes out to those in national parks and the local community who have worked so hard to rebuild the fence and to protect these magnificent animals. We must all publicise this and express our outrage. Only a stirring of our national conscience will stop these animals from being rendered extinct.”

The former Cabinet minister said the Zimbabwe government should speak with governments of the countries where the rhino horn is traded “to see what measures they are going to take to prevent this destruction of one of our national assets”.

“If countries like China are truly our ‘all weather’ friends they will demonstrate their abhorrence by acting to deal with their own nationals involved in this scandal.

It is with deepest sadness and anger that the trustees hereby confirm two rhinos have been found poached in the Rhodes Matopos National Park yesterday.”

1 COMMENT

  1. I was once informed that Emmerson Mnangagwa was behind it when he was minister of soldiers. The proceeds could have been used to construct that magnificent structure in Gweru, which is becoming a white elephant soon after its completion.

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