Monday, September 9, 2013

Three 'cyanide poachers' appear in court as Hwange elephant death toll hits 116

A total of 116 elephants died as a result of poisoning of water bodies by poachers in the Hwange National Park during the past eight months, a senior Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority security officer told police. In a statement to the police during investigation after 41 elephants were found dead last week, Mr Amos Gwema, the authority’s senior investment and security officer said 97 of the cases were linked to three of the poachers who were rounded up last week after poisoning 41 elephants with salt laced with cyanide. “Since January 2013, 116 elephants died in Mokona area through poisoning and 97 of these cases are linked to the accused persons who applied cyanide and killed 41 elephants,” said Mr Gwema. “Zimbabwe is a member of the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species of fauna and flora (Cites), an international body regulating trade in wild animals and agreements between governments and what is happening is threatening these animals’ survival. We suspect the number of poisoned animals will keep growing as investigations are still ongoing,” said Mr Gwema. Three of the six men who were arrested last week appeared before Tsholotsho resident magistrate, Mr Carrington Karidzangundi, on Friday. The trio is being charged with contravening Section 24(1)(b) of the Parks and Wildlife Act, Chapter 20:14 ‘hunting without authority’and Section 73(1) of the Environmental Management Agency Act, Chapter 20:27. Brothers Sipho Mafu (54), of Sakhile Line in Tsholotsho, Misheck Mafu (46) of Thula Line also in Tsholotsho and Farai Chitsa (34), of House Number 6297 Old Pumula were not asked to plead and were remanded in custody to 20 September. Mr Liberty Mcijo, of Lazarus and Sarif is representing the trio. Ms Liane Nkomo for the State said on 27 August this year, game rangers at Hwange National Park got a tip off that there were poachers in the game park. ends

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