Suspected Zambian poachers abandon 172 kilograms of elephant tusks in Zimbabwe
The seizure was confirmed in a statement issued on August 14 by top Zimbabwean conservationist Trevor Lane of Bhejane Trust, a private voluntary organisation which works the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority of Zimbabwe (ZimParks).
Bhejane Trust is based in the resort town of Victoria Falls. According to Lane, two game rangers encountered six suspected poachers in the Sinamatella zone to the north-west of Hwange National Park.
“Two game rangers based in Sinamatella who were on patrol in the Inyantue area (of Sinamatella) encountered the tracks of a group of six suspected poachers. After tracking them for nearly 4 hours, they encountered the group resting. They opened fire, but unfortunately the whole group escaped.
“However, all their kit and ivory was recovered. This included 13 elephant tusks weighing 172kg in total. It looks like three of these tusks were old and thus pick-ups. Therefore the group had shot 6 elephants on this trip. There was also a .375 rifle with ammunition, a Zambian cell phone, a Zambian identity document, various personal kit, dried elephant and buffalo meat and assorted medicines,” Lane said.
The rhino and elephant conservation specialist said the fact that Zambian poachers are now trekking almost 200km into Zimbabwe to find animals to poach indicates that they have exhausted the big tuskers in the Sebungwe area in the Lower Zambezi.
Zambian poachers use dug-out canoes to cross the Zambezi River when going for poaching missions into southern neighbors Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Lane said once back in Zambia, the poachers are safe because the Zambian Police Service does not cooperate with external requests for crack-downs on citizen cross-border wildlife crime syndicates.