HARARE – Courts in Hwange and Victoria Falls last week sentenced 31 wildlife poachers to a combined 280 years in jail following convictions, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (ZimParks) said.
This comes as the Authority has launched a blitz against poachers, on the back of increased poaching cases.
Only last month, poachers killed 13 elephants using cyanide in the Hwange National Park.
“We have declared a zero tolerance policy to poaching and it seems that it is bearing fruit. Hwange and Victoria Falls have finalised 56 cases of poaching and 31 of them were sentenced to nine years in prison with hard labour. We greatly appreciate what the judiciary has done. Together, we can win this war against poaching.
“We will continue to engage our stakeholders in the fight against poaching especially the judiciary for dealing with the issues urgently,” said ZimParks public relations manager Tinashe Farawo.
The anti-poaching blitz also netted a senior Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe (FCZ) official, Justice Zulu, whose base at Ngamo safaris in Gwai, Matabeleland North Province, had been turned into a poachers’ hideout.
He was convicted last Friday by Hwange provincial magistrate Rose Dube and was also sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment with hard labour.
His accomplice, Innocent Nyathi, is already serving nine years after his conviction in December 2016.
The first known case of elephant poisoning in Zimbabwe was a single massacre of over 100 elephants in Hwange National Park between August and November 2013.
Since then it has become a common means of poaching — not only in Hwange but throughout the country’s protected areas, including the Zambezi valley and Gonarezhou National Park.