The Daily News | December 9, 2020
A Beitbridge court has sentenced two men to 21 and 26 years respectively for poaching endangered rhinos in Bubye Conservancy.
The duo, Ignatius Maiga (34) of Mthimukuku village and Fanuel Mukucha (33) of Mushamba village in Gokwe had appeared at Beitbridge magistrate’s court where they were convicted.
Maiga was sentenced 22 years for poaching two rhinos and four years for hunting in a safari area while Mushamba was sentenced to 18 years for killing two rhinos. He was also jailed for another three years for hunting in a safari area.
The court heard that on August 11, the duo entered Bubye Conservancy with the intent to hunt for the specially protected species. They tracked a black rhino, but later lost the spoor. They picked another spoor of a white rhinoceros and tracked it until they killed it using a 303 rifle.
Game rangers from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) and scouts from the conservancy launched a manhunt for the poachers.
The law enforcement agencies finally came into contact with the poachers on August 13, resulting in an exchange of gunfire. The two were overpowered and subsequently arrested. Further investigations by police resulted in the firearm used in the commission of the crime being taken for ballistic examination and it matched an outstanding poaching case which occurred in April 2019 in the same conservancy where a rhino was killed and dehorned.
Meanwhile, Criminal Investigation Department spokesperson Portia Chinho warned that police and game rangers would always be on the lookout for poachers.
“Wildlife resources constitute an essential feature of our natural heritage and contribute significantly to economic growth of the country through tourism and as such, we continue to warn would be offenders to desist from illegally killing these animals.
“The long arm of the law will always catch up with any law breaker. The Zimbabwe Republic Police shall continuously engage all relevant authorities in combating wildlife crimes,” Chinho said.