Samantha Chigogo Herald Correspondent
The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority is carrying out massive transfers and redeployments of rangers at Hwange National Park to improve general services at the largest wildlife sanctuary in the country. The transfers came after Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri revealed in October that five game rangers were arrested in Hwange National Park for allegedly poisoning 11 elephants with cyanide.

National parks regional manager central and acting spokesperson Mr Tawanda Gotosa confirmed the transfers, which he referred to as “nothing major, but rather a routine staff relocation of rangers to other operating environments”.

“Yes, I can confirm those transfers are ongoing and it is nothing new as we normally carry out these staff rotations periodically,” he said. “There is nothing unusual about these transfers as Zimparks undertakes routine transfers as a way of strengthening the operational effectiveness of the organisation across the country.

Sources at parks who spoke to The Herald said the transfers were triggered by the arrest of the five rangers for poaching and wide spread suspicion that more were involved in the illegal act.

Apart from the five rangers, a number of villagers living at the edge of the vast national park have been arrested and appeared in court on accusations of poisoning the elephants with cyanide.

Mr Gotosa said they usually transferred staff at the end of year.

“Whenever an organisation gets bad apples, it is better to deal with the problem head on rather than seeking transfers as this cannot be our best way to solving the issues of poaching,” he said.

Zimparks is currently carrying out poaching awareness programmes for locals in Hwange.

“We are not really training these locals for recruitment purposes as there are no vacant posts as yet, but what we are doing are awareness programmes amongst the locals so that they can see and appreciate the value of wildlife individually,” he said.

“We have seen that community engagement projects with the locals are a step ahead in getting people to typically understand the importance of the environment and wildlife that surround them.

“We may not be talking of recruitment now, but we will surely consider trained locals whenever we get vacancy openings.”

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