THE poaching of key species of animals within Hwange National Park increased to 329 cases last year from 315 witnessed in 2012, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) spokesperson Caroline Washaya-Moyo has said.
The animals targeted for poaching were elephants, white and black rhinos, buffaloes and zebras, with jumbos topping the least at 240 up from 223 in 2011 and 212 in 2012.
White and black rhino poaching decreased from nine to five and then slightly up to six within the three-year period while the number of buffaloes killed in 2011 decreased from 68 to 46 and then 47.
“The poaching of both the black and white rhino species has remained low within the Parks Estate. However, there has been an increase outside the Parks Estate,” Washaya-Moyo said.
She said the recent use of cyanide at Hwange National Park in poaching activities contributed to the increase in the number of elephants that were illegally harvested in 2013.
She attributed the demand for ivory and its products, particularly in Asian countries, as the major push for the poaching activities, but exonerated Chinese nationals flooding the country.
“This high demand is not necessarily linked to the presence of Chinese nationals in the country as we do not have evidence to this effect,” she said.
Washaya-Moyo added that the authority had scaled up efforts to combat poaching activities across the country through resource mobilisation and pushing for deterrent court sentences on wildlife crimes.
Organised wildlife poaching in the country, particularly of elephants and rhinoceros whose tusks and horns were lucrative on the black market, has escalated to disastrous levels after the poisoning of about 90 elephants through cyanide by poachers last month.