Poachers devise new tricks to evade detection
Sunday, 28 August 2011 10:55
BY CHIPO MASARA
From fresh reports of illegal hunting in Zimbabwe, it would appear as though
the poachers are adamant on wiping out all wildlife and as long as the
authorities, whose job is to protect the natural resource neglect to fulfil
their mandate, the country’s wildlife will surely continue to diminish.
Not so long ago, the media carried reports of Chinese nationals in Mushumbi,
a remote previously wildlife-rich area in the Lower Guruve District, who
were allegedly poisoning elephants in the area for their tusks.
We also recently received reports from the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force
(ZCTF), that illegal hunters in the Charara area of Kariba have come up with
a plan to try and prevent the authorities from discovering their activities.
It has come to their attention that when they shoot an animal, vultures
circling in the sky above have been giving them away. So in order to avoid
detection, they are now shooting animals and spraying them with a poison
such as DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane — a deadly synthetic
When the vultures feed off the carcass, they die from the poison, hence
reducing the number of vultures available to give them away.
From such reports, it is clear that poaching is not going anywhere anytime
soon as the illegal hunters have evidently upped their game in their
relentless bid to self-enrich at the expense of the country’s wildlife and
overall ecological balance.
Poachers are mainly targeting the rhinoceros and the elephants for the ivory
and reports show that if the poaching continues at the current pace, the
rhinoceros will especially become extinct, and soon. Already there are very
There are no exact statistics to show how much wildlife Zimbabwe still has
as the Ministry of Environment and Human Resources Management and the
department of National Parks have not conducted an audit that would take
stock of the animals.
Self-enrichment behind rhino poaching
Johnny Rodrigues, the chairman for ZCTF, a non-profit organisation that
strives to save the country’s wildlife, said the Environment ministry has
not carried out audits because it is fully aware that the country has been
cleared of most of its wildlife, partly for the pot but mostly for the ivory
Rodrigues insisted the estimated figures that the responsible authorities
are currently basing their strategies and policies on are not a true
reflection of the situation on the ground.
The ZCTF website says more than 90% of the game in private game ranches has
been lost to poachers and illegal hunters in the past five years.
One only has to travel to a place like Gonarezhou National Park that was
previously infested with elephants, to tell that the wildlife numbers have
drastically depleted, said Rodrigues.
The problem would not have been so grave were it not for the get-rich-quick
attitude that seems to have pervaded Zimbabwe. Curbing the gruesome practice
would be easier if more people were willing to put the country’s wildlife
ahead of personal gain.
The arrests of poachers are rare instances and reports of some police
officers that are allegedly working in cahoots with the poachers are rife.
It is therefore of paramount importance that the responsible ministry puts
proper measures in place that will transmit in a clear manner the message
that poaching will not be tolerated. Those that are caught on the wrong side
of the law must be dealt with accordingly.
Considering the rate of poaching in Zimbabwe, curbing the practice will take
a lot more than just occasional public rebuke as the class of poachers that
we are dealing with now requires smarter and sterner measures.
Wildlife is a major part of Zimbabwe and has since time immemorial added to
the country’s appeal, which at one time made it a worthy destination for