The soldiers, who were said to be in full army regalia and armed with AK47 service rifles, stormed the small conservancy, east of Chiredzi town, on Saturday morning where they intended to poach Rhinoceros for the lucrative horn. But luck ran out of them as they raised the attention of a joint police and Parks crack team-deployed after poachers destined for Mozambique-became a menace of late when they fired the first few bullets and missed one Rhinoceros, leading to an arm bush.
“We heard gunshots as we were in our hideouts in the conservancy, and laid an arm bush and shot six, while one managed to escape. They were armed with AK assault rifles which are marked and belong to the ZNA,”
one game rancher said.
He said they could not identify the deceased as they did not carry any form of identification with them. Only the marked rifles sold out their barracks.
“They did not carry any form of identification with them. We phoned army officials who identified the guns,” said the rancher, who refused to be named due to company protocol.
Masvingo police spokesperson, Inspector Phibeon Nyambo referred all questions to the army and the Parks department.
ZNA Director of Public Relations, Lieutenant Colonel Mugove Mugwisi refused to comment on the matter.
“I cannot talk to you as I do not recognize your publication. What is Radio VOP? Where do you broadcast from?” was all Lt Colonel Mugwisi could say.
Environment and Natural Resources Management public relations director, Caroline Washsya-Moyo said she had got wind that some poachers had been shot dead, but had not identified them as yet.
“Our guys just told us that they killed poachers, but we have not yet identified them. I cannot say they were soldiers or not. Call me latter and I will give you their names after their next of kin have been informed,” said Washaya-Moyo.
Efforts to contact her latter proved futile as her mobile was switched off, while she was said to be out of office.
Poaching has become rampant in the country’s national parks with the poachers targeting the endangered species horn used in ivory making. Recently, one poacher, an ex army officer, was killed at Kyle Recreational Park after he was found de-horning a dead Rhino.
And only last year, Zimbabwe lost more than 100 Rhinos to poachers in a development that has put the country on the spotlight, the Parks Director General, Mike Mutsambiwa revealed during his recent tour of the province last month.