7 rhino poachers nabbed

George Maponga Masvingo Bureau
Rangers from Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) have arrested seven suspected poachers from Chiredzi after they allegedly shot and seriously injured a black rhinoceros from Save Valley Conservancy last week.

The suspected poachers surrendered after they were intercepted by an anti-poaching unit before they could dehorn the rhino, which was bleeding from the shoulder.

The injured rhino is receiving treatment and there are encouraging reports that it has high chances of survival.

Zimparks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo yesterday said the suspects are Godfrey Makechemu (47), Joel Matuke (42), Ignatius Maunga (30), Farai Chauno (30), James Makumba (39), Jevas Mavuto (39) and Selestino Shate (39), who are all from Chiredzi.

Rangers recovered a 404 rifle, a silencer and eleven rounds of ammunition from the suspected poachers.

“The suspects are in police custody and will appear in court soon facing poaching charges,” he said.

“The message that we want to send is very clear: Parks’ estates throughout the country are no-go areas for poachers. Our team of rangers will shoot and arrest anyone found in the parks’ estates for any other business, save for tourism.”

Mr Farawo said the Zimparks anti-poaching team that was on patrol in the Save Valley Conservancy intercepted the suspects after hearing the sound of gun fire.

“The suspected poachers were disarmed and arrested after our team of rangers closed in on them while they were following the spoor of the rhino they had shot,” he said.

“There were also trails of blood from the bleeding rhino that had been shot.

“We are happy that the injured rhino is responding well to treatment and has high chances of survival.”

The parastatal is also happy that the Judiciary is expeditiously dealing with poaching cases.

This, he said, was deterrent for would-be poachers.

“All our wild animals are a national treasure that must be guarded jealously, not only by the parks authority, but by all Zimbabweans for the benefit of everyone,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Zimparks ranger, who was on routine patrol at Chirisa Safari area in Gokwe, was left with serious injuries after he was gored by a buffalo.

Alphonce Mapuwa sustained bruises and injuries all over the body as a result of the attack.

According to Mr Farawo, Mapuwa was taken to Gokwe District Hospital before being transferred to West End Hospital in Harare, where he is receiving treatment.

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