At least 82 people were arrested last year while police recovered 17 pangolins and over 1 000kg of pangolin scales, as the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) declares war on wildlife crimes.
During the same period, ZRP handled 40 cases and of the 82 arrests, 12 people were convicted and jailed effective nine years each, for illegal possession of pangolins.
In a statement yesterday, Criminal Investigations Department (CID) spokesperson Detective Inspector Portia Chinho warned would-be offenders that it was illegal to kill or traffic any endangered wildlife as the offences attract a mandatory nine-year jail term.
“In Zimbabwe, the pangolin is one of the specially protected yet most trafficked mammals. Other specially protected mammals include the cheetah, aardwolf, bat eared fox, gemsbok, black rhinoceros and white rhinoceros. The pangolin in its entirety is believed to possess an array of medicinal qualities though no scientific qualification has supported this cultural mythology whose power has justified the poaching and trafficking of the only scaled mammal.
“Our natural heritage is protected by law and as such the Zimbabwe Republic Police will not hesitate to enforce the law without fear or favour. Law enforcement officials are not going to sit down and fold hands until sanity prevails in the country,” she said.
She said on February 11, the CID Minerals, Flora and Fauna Unit in Guruve arrested Zuze Tauro (39) of Mushumbi Pools who was selling a live pangolin. Police intercepted Tauro at Chitsungo Business Centre, Mushumbi Pools, while in possession of the pangolin which was in a wooden cage and arrested him.
In a similar case in Beitbridge, detectives from the same unit last week arrested Plaxedes Sibanda (28) for possessing a live pangolin and she was taken to court where she was sentenced to 24 months in jail.