|4 Chinese nationals arrested|
|Saturday, 18 February 2012 00:00|
Four Chinese nationals have been arrested in Bikita for contravening the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act after they killed more than 40 tortoises. Tortoises are listed as an endangered species.
The four Zhang Hong Yuan, Chen Caijan, Lin Guibin and Shi Jiahua were arrested at Chiwara homestead near Gambakwe Village in Bikita.
According to a statement issued by Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals chairman Mr Ed Lance, the four were arrested following a joint raid by police, National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and The Save Valley Conservancy Anti-Poaching Unit.
"When we raided the Chinese homestead we also recovered 13 live tortoises, meat together with the skeletal remains of a further 40 tortoises," Mr Lance said.
He said the four Chinese had procured the Bells Hinged Tortoises from the local community for personal consumption.
"The Bells Hinged Tortoise is listed under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) Appendix II and its numbers in the wild have dwindled significantly over recent years."
The tortoises were kept stored in two empty 200 litre steel drums with no provisions for food or water.
Written statements from members of the community stated that the tortoises were dropped into boiling water while alive in order to separate the shell from the meat. Tortoise meat was also recovered during the raid.
The ZNSPCA said such actions were a clear violation of the Animal Welfare Act.
"Officers were dispatched to Bikita in order to undertake investigations into the matter and charges of cruelty were laid against the four."
When interviewed, the ZNSPCA said that the four Chinese all admitted to contravening the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Further investigations also revealed that these four had been employed locally without relevant immigration documentation.
"The four men are now detained pending deportation," Mr Lance said.
The ZNSPCA commend the joint efforts undertaken by the Police, National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, The Tikki Hywood Trust and The Save Valley Conservancy Anti-Poaching Unit.
"As an organisation we are concerned with the increasing cases of cruelty to all animals within Zimbabwe.
"Our wildlife remains a legacy for future generations of Zimbabweans and we should jealously guard their well being."
"In accordance with our mandate we will vigorously pursue and prosecute any individuals found guilty of contravening the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act," the ZNSPCA said.