Friday, January 22, 2016

One poacher killed as Zimbabwean game rangers recover 10 elephant tusks

By Oscar Nkala 10:37 / 22 Jan 2016 GABORONE, January 22 (ANA) – A suspected poacher was on Wednesday night shot and killed by game rangers of the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (PWMA) during a gunfight which led to the recovery of 10 elephant tusks and the arrest of other members of an ivory trafficking syndicate in the Matusadona National Park in northern Zimbabwe. In a statement released early on Friday morning, the Matusadona Anti-Poaching Trust said the raid, which also involved police detectives, started around midnight on Wednesday following a tip-off which suggested that a group of men were looking for customers for elephant tusks. “In the middle of the night on the 19th of January a team of law enforcement personnel infiltrated a group of poachers attempting to sell 10 tusks of elephant ivory. When the law enforcement team (known as the Black Mambas) attempted to arrest one of the poachers, another produced a knife and tried to stab one of them. “At the same time, another poacher who was hiding in an ambush position nearby opened fire on the Black Mamba team who reacted swiftly. A gun battle ensued and ended with the Black Mambas killing one poacher and recovering 10 elephant tusks,” the group said. However, the anti-poaching unit said a close examination of the recovered tusks and updated information at hand proved that they were not harvested from Matusadona National Park as no elephants were killed in the area in the past few days. The group said there was a possibility that the tusks were from elephants poached in Hwange National Park which lies almost 300 kilometres south-west of Matusadona. “This operation is a prime example of just how dangerous these anti-poaching operations can be. A huge respect and thank you should go to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) personnel who were involved in bringing this poaching syndicate to an end. MAPP continues to bring these results at a vast expense and we can only operate as effectively as our funding allows us,” the anti-poaching unit said. The poacher who was killed was taken to a mortuary while his detained accomplices are expected to face charges of poaching and illegal possession of elephant ivory when they appear in court soon in the lake-side town of Kariba. Zambian and Zimbabwean poachers have reportedly taken advantage of the patchy rains experienced in the past two weeks to conduct long-duration operations in the Matusadona, Bumi Hills, Hwange, Matetsi and Zambezi National Parks in the Zambezi Valley. – African News Agency (ANA)

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