Zimbabwe's courts have continued their recent hard line on poachers with the sentencing of two elephant poachers, while Zimparks recieves donation of five new patrol vehicles.
The Land Rover trucks were donated by Mbada Diamonds in order to address poaching problems in Hwange National Park. The five trucks which are each valued at US $57,000 are part of twenty vehicles that Mbada has pledged to donate to the Authority.
Hwange magistrate Dambudzo Munati this week sentenced Isaac Phiri and Johanne Musaka to 11 years each in prison, after they were arrested for elephant poaching in 2008. At the time of the pair’s arrest, more than 20 elephant tusks were recovered along with AK47 rifles.
Caroline Washaya-Moyo, Zimbabwe’s Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) spokesperson, welcomed the sentence, saying such jail terms are a ‘deterrent’ to would-be poachers. “We will continue to engage the judiciary to ensure that there is consistency in all wildlife cases brought before the courts. It is critical for the judiciary to ensure that cases are completed to send the proper message,” Washaya-Moyo told SW Radio Africa. She added: “The message is that it doesn’t matter if you were arrested in 2006, in 2008 or now, deterrent sentences are still going to be passed.”
The latest sentencing follows similar jail terms handed to five poachers linked to the mass cyanide poisoning of elephants in the Hwange National Park. The discovery of more than 80 elephant carcasses in late August prompted international condemnation. Since then, ZimParks has said that the number of elephants carcasses discovered has risen to just over 100.
Washaya-Moyo reiterated this on Wednesday, saying claims that more than 300 elephants had died as a result of the cyanide poisoning were unfounded. “The official number of elephants that have died in Hwange National Park because of cyanide poisoning is 100. These are elephant carcasses that we have counted physically with our stakeholders,” Washaya-Moyo said.
Meanwhile, lawyers are reportedly probing the claims of torture made by a poaching suspect in Tsholotsho. Lot Zondo has said that and he and other villagers were tortured by ZimParks rangers, who accused them of being involved in the cyanide poisoning in Hwange. Zondo was quoted by the Southern Eye publication that he has instituted legal proceedings against Zimparks.
Source: SW Radio Africa (30 October 2013)