Vil­lagers ac­cused of as­sist­ing poach­ers

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Leonard Ncube Vic­to­ria Falls Re­porter

VIL­LAGERS in Chikan­dakubi Ward in Hwange District have been ac­cused of har­bour­ing sus­pected poach­ers who they al­legedly as­sist to kill wildlife in the area.

Vil­lagers from Masik­ili area in Hwange Ru­ral District Coun­cil Ward 1 met on Wed­nes­day in Matetsi where it was re­vealed that four un­named vil­lagers in Chikan­dakubi were re­cently found with loads of dried game meat sus­pected to have been poached.

Ward 1 Coun­cil­lor Elias Muzamba or­gan­ised the meet­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Zim­babwe Parks and Wildlife Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity Vic­to­ria Falls of­fice to de­lib­er­ate on how to deal with il­le­gal hunt­ing fol­low­ing poi­son­ing of 13 ele­phants in Chikan­dakubi re­cently.

Speak­ing at the meet­ing, HRDC Ward 19 Clr Mathew Mu­leya who is also a Zim­parks ranger ap­pealed to vil­lagers not to pro­tect poach­ers.

“Crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity in our area started with stock thieves who would drive cat­tle across the Zam­bezi River into Zam­bia. That changed into croc­o­dile poach­ing as peo­ple used croc­o­dile liver as poi­son. Now we have es­ca­lat­ing cases of use of cyanide, surely we need to work to­gether to weed out the cul­prits from our com­mu­nity,” said Clr Mu­leya.

He said rangers and po­lice alone will not be able to fight il­le­gal hunt­ing with­out the in­volve­ment of com­mu­ni­ties.

With­out men­tion­ing names, Clr Mu­leya said they had ap­pre­hended four vil­lage heads but re­leased them on the ba­sis of be­ing com­mu­nity lead­ers.

“Tra­di­tional lead­ers should lead by ex­am­ple but we have some vil­lage heads who are sell­ing game meat. Four of them were ar­rested but we had to warn them be­cause they are our com­mu­nity el­ders as it would have been a dis­grace for them to go to jail. How­ever, next time they are caught we won’t ne­go­ti­ate,” he added.

Chief Shana of Jam­bezi said vil­lage heads who would be caught work­ing in ca­hoots with crim­i­nals risk be­ing stripped of their badges. Speak­ing at the same oc­ca­sion, the of­fi­cer-in-charge of Matetsi Po­lice Base Sergeant Humphrey Zimucha ap­pealed to vil­lagers to report pres­ence of strangers in their ar­eas as he chal­lenged tra­di­tional lead­ers to lead by ex­am­ple in the fight against crime.

“Cyanide cases are wor­ri­some, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the tech­niques used by poach­ers. We there­fore ap­peal to vil­lagers for in­for­ma­tion be­cause we strug­gle to make ar­rests as peo­ple de­fend each other. We must be care­ful not to be used by crim­i­nals be­cause we will lose all our her­itage. We are wor­ried to hear that some vil­lage heads are in­volved,” he said.

It came out that Chikan­dakubi com­mu­nity and parts of Matetsi are no­to­ri­ous for poach­ing. Zanu-PF Mata­bele­land North pro­vin­cial Sec­re­tary for En­vi­ron­ment Cde Shirlly Mlotshwa chal­lenged the com­mu­nity to col­lab­o­rate in con­serv­ing nat­u­ral re­sources.

The meet­ing was at­tended by tra­di­tional lead­ers, heads of Gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, anti-poach­ing teams work­ing in the district, Zim­parks and scores of vil­lagers.

Zim­parks di­rec­tor-gen­eral Mr Ful­ton Mang­wanya last week said en­gage­ments were un­der­way to push for stiffer penal­ties on those found with cyanide as he ap­pealed for col­lab­o­ra­tion from all stake­hold­ers in­clud­ing com­mu­ni­ties against poach­ing.

Pres­i­dent Mugabe on Fri­day capped Sun­day News as­sis­tant Ed­i­tor Mkhu­l­uli Sibanda, Se­nior Re­porter Robin Muchetu (in­set left) and Proof-reader No­ma­langa Sibanda (in­set cen­tre) who all grad­u­ated with Bach­e­lor of Arts Hons De­gree in Lan­guages and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Stud­ies while Pre­cious Dube grad­u­ated with Bach­e­lor of Com­merce Hon­ours De­gree in Ac­count­ing and Fi­nance at Lu­pane State Uni­ver­sity in Lu­pane on Fri­day. (Pic­ture by Eliah Saushoma)

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