The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) are conducting joint operations meant to curb poaching around the country. It is believed that Zimparks is also pushing for a law that criminalises cyanide possession – a lethal chemical that is used to poison wildlife – especially in areas where there are no mining activities. Over the years, Hwange National Park has become the prime target for poachers who use cyanide to poison animals, especially elephants.
In an interview yesterday, Zimparks public relations manager Mr Tinashe Farawo said poaching declined markedly over the past four months, particularly in Hwange.
He noted that poaching activities had largely been contained as a result of support from the new political administration.
“Some of the reasons that have led to the decrease in poaching cases are that there is now political will from the highest office to deal with poaching,” said Mr Farawo.
“Since the coming in of the new leadership, poaching has been going down.”
Mr Farawo said so far this year, Zimparks had not received any reports of poaching involving cyanide poisoning or through use of rifles.
According to Mr Farawo, joint operations between police and the wildlife management body were being successful.
“We are having positive results and we are also embarking on awareness campaigns with the judiciary and various stakeholders,” he said.
“The judiciary has also been very supportive. We are, however, in the process of lobbying for a Statutory Instrument that will make it an offence to possess cyanide, especially in non-mining areas.”
Last year, 640 poachers were arrested across the country, of which 590 were locals and 50 were foreigners.
Also, 50 rifles and 112 rounds of ammunition were recovered.
It is understood that more than half the arrested poachers have since been convicted.
Statistics indicate that about 893 elephants were killed in Matabeleland North province between 2013 and 2016.
Zimbabwe has arguably the largest elephant population in Africa at 84 000, with the figure being 34 000 more than the country’s carrying capacity.