Poach­ers gang nabbed af­ter mas­sive man­hunt

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Whins­ley Masara Chron­i­cle Reporter

FOUR sus­pected poach­ers were ar­rested at a bound­ary fence be­tween Hwange Na­tional Park and Tsholot­sho af­ter shoot­ing and wound­ing two ele­phants.

Zim­babwe Parks and Wildlife Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity (ZimParks) rangers rushed to Vu­lashaba, Sipepa Area, af­ter hear­ing eight gun shots on Sun­day at around 8PM. They found the ele­phants but the poach­ers es­caped. An op­er­a­tion in­volv­ing the police and rangers led to the ar­rest of the sus­pects.

One was ar­rested on Sun­day night and the rest were ar­rested the fol­low­ing day.

Police iden­ti­fied the sus­pected poach­ers as Felistino Shate (33) of Kwenda vil­lage, un­der Chief Mazun­gunye in Bikita, Charles Si­bonga (30) of Vil­lage Kam­banjo 2, un­der Chief Sim­chembo in Gokwe, Collen Luphahla (27) of Farm 202 Cop­per Queen, Chief Nem­budziya in Gokwe and Dubai Luphahla (34) of Si­ag­wela vil­lage, un­der Chief Muneny­onga Chitekete, in Gokwe as well.

Sources at the game park said rangers teamed up with the police, ar­ranged pa­trol ve­hi­cles and mounted road­blocks to hunt down the poach­ers on Sun­day.

They said on the same night, they man­aged to ap­pre­hend one of the sus­pects whom they found near Mlevu School junc­tion. They con­tin­ued to search for the other three whom they caught up with on the fol­low­ing day.

“One of the sus­pects drove a White Mit­subishi Pa­jero with Regis­tra­tion num­ber ADM 3018, while the other two were on foot. Police dis­cov­ered ele­phant spoor and spots of blood which in­di­cated the wounded an­i­mals were close by. Two wounded ele­phants were dis­cov­ered in the game park around that area,” said the source.

“The poach­ers were found with a .458 ri­fle with erased se­rial num­bers, a dry ele­phant’s tail, a pocket knife, an axe and a pair of farmer shoes among other items.”

The source said the ri­fle was stashed in a bag which was buried in a pit at the game park.

Na­tional police spokesper­son Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Paul Ny­athi con­firmed the ar­rest of the four sus­pected poach­ers.

“The Zim­babwe Repub­lic Police would like to con­firm the ar­rest of four ac­cused per­sons on Sep­tem­ber 4 in Hwange for game poach­ing,” he said.

Chief Supt Ny­athi said Parks and Wildlife rangers were on pa­trol when they heard gun shots.

He warned mem­bers of the pub­lic against en­gag­ing in poach­ing. -@win­nie_­masara

The four sus­pected poach­ers

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