OVER 100 elephants have been poisoned by poachers since last year despite the government introducingt deerrent measures like 18-year sentences for culprits, Environment, Water and Climate minister Saviour Kasukuwere has said.
“Indeed the issue of poaching is worrying. You remember last year we lost about 110 elephants due to cyanide poisoning. However, we have mobilised resources through the Wildlife Ecological Trust.
“We have set up bases in Tsholotsho which was last year’s hot spot for elephant deaths,” Kasukuwere told the National Assembly last week.
He said his ministry had come up with a number of measures to combat wildlife poaching at the country’s game parks.
“Since the widely-publicised elephant poaching using cyanide poison in Hwange National Park in 2013, a number of measures have been put in place to curb a recurrence.”
He said the measures include early detection of carcasses, poacher camps, poacher spoors and speedy movement of anti-poaching teams, use of helicopters and aircrafts, and deployments of intelligence teams from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (Zimparks) as well as the police.
He indicated that satellite base stations had been opened, especially in areas adjacent to Tsholotsho, and stakeholders in the private sector had been roped in to assist with the provision of scarce resources to fight poaching.
“Consultations have been held with the judiciary and all stakeholders involved in the fight against wildlife crime resulting in significant improvements and the expeditious preparation of dockets and finalisation of cases.
“Cross-border collaboration with law enforcement agencies in neighbouring countries such as Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique in information sharing on poacher movements and dealing with immediate incursions has tremendously helped in the eradication of cross-border poaching.
“We have also increased helicopter patrols working with the ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) and other security intelligence organisation so that we gather information before poaching happens.
“However, this afternoon (last Wednesday) two cyanide peddlers were granted $200 bail each, that is disappointing to us.”
The pair of Namatani Ndlovu (30) a hunter and former Zimparks ranger from Mkhosana, and Calvin Murapata (22), a commuter omnibus driver from Chinotimba, were charged with “selling to any person any pesticide or toxic substance that one knows is not registered”.
They were granted bail by Victoria Falls resident magistrate Sharon Rosemani.