A group of elephants drinking water in Sambezi river at Chobe National Park, BotswanaIn early June, the Botswana authorities had a contact with a gang of Zambian poachers and killed one Zambian. They recovered some ammunition, kit and 37 tusks. This was most likely the gang that crossed into Botswana on the night of 18th March with an AK47 and a .375 with 150 rounds. They will thus have spent about 6 weeks in Botswana poaching, shooting at least 19 elephants (they only shoot big bulls). The names of the poachers and the porters are known to us, but despite claims by the Zambians they are following up, we can probably expect no further reaction from Zambia!
A sting operation mounted by Parks investigations and the ZRP, resulted in the arrest of three suspects and the recovery of a .458 and a .375 rifle. The weapons were tied under a minibus, which was nabbed at a special roadblock The suspects had poached four elephants in the Sikumi Forest and Main camp area. All three suspects have previous convictions involving poaching. These poachers are from Dete, which appears to be a thriving center for poachers!
In another sting operation mounted by Charles Brightman and VFAPU, National Parks and the ZRP, two poachers trying to sell ivory were trapped in possession. They were arrested at 0140 in the morning and sentenced to nine years at 1530 the same day – this has to be an all time record in the administration of justice!!!
A big thanks to Nicholas Duncan and the SAVE the African Rhino Foundation for their support on the efforts to control poaching. They have assisted by funding informer rewards, and by supporting the Parks Investigation unit.
The stopping of “ration” hunts in the Parks has also decreased the amount of poaching (illegal hunting) going on. The ration hunting was a cesspool of corruption and illegal hunting.  This gave Zimbabwe a bad rap on what was previously a good reputation for standards and quality.
What is alarming is the amount of ivory coming out of the Binga/Siabuwa area. It appears there is large scale poaching going on here, by both locals and Zambians. This seems to be the hot bed of ivory poaching in Zimbabwe, and I fear the elephant population in the communal areas plus in Chizarira and Chirisa are in danger of being wiped out . Urgent action is required here, by whoever is able to assist.
On the bright side, the stirling efforts by the rangers in Hwange and Zambezi Parks seemed to have curbed the appetite of the Zambians for poaching here. At a ministerial meeting in Livingstone, the Zambians complained bitterly about the Zimbabweans shooting their nationals, but were told in no uncertain terms that the law of Zimbabwe would prevail, and armed Zambians would be dealt with accordingly. If they stay in Zambia they have nothing to fear from the Zimbabweans!!


By Trevor Lane