Freeman Razemba Crime Reporter
Poaching cases have decreased countrywide so far this year after the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management declared zero tolerance to illegal wildlife hunting. Statistics show that poaching cases have decreased during the first three months of this year as compared to the same period last year.
Between January and March last year, the country lost 12 elephants, five black rhinos and two white rhinos to poachers.
During the same period this year, only one elephant and one black rhino have been lost to poachers.
In an interview yesterday, Zimparks public relations manager Mr Tinashe Farawo said some of the reasons that led to the decline was the support they were getting from President Mnangagwa, Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and other ministries.
He said ever since the coming of the new dispensation, poaching levels had dropped sharply especially in Hwange because the market has been disturbed.
“One of the reasons that has led to the decrease in poaching cases is because there is now political will from the highest office to deal with poaching. Since the coming in of the new leadership, poaching has been going down,” Mr Farawo said.
He said this year no cases involving the poisoning of elephants with cyanide and the use of rifles have been reported.
Mr Farawo said most of the people that were arrested last year for poaching had been convicted and jailed.
“Last year, about 640 people were arrested countrywide for poaching and of these, 590 were locals while 50 of them were foreigners. More than half of these poachers have since been convicted to a mandatory sentence.
“We also recovered 50 rifles and over 112 rounds of ammunition that were being used for poaching. We also recovered 107 pieces of ivory,” he said.
He said last year they recorded about 12 cases of armed contact, which resulted with 10 poachers being killed. Of the 10, three were foreigners while seven were locals.
This year Zimparks has only recorded four cases of armed contact with poachers.
The latest developments also comes after police are still investigating the former First Lady Mrs Grace Mugabe for allegedly smuggling ivory worth millions of dollars to underground foreign markets.
Zimparks investigators have since submitted key documents relevant to the allegations to the police. Preliminary indications are Mrs Mugabe spirited large consignments of ivory to China, the United Arab Emirates and the United States, among other destinations.