RANGERS killed one poacher and arrested three others while nine escaped following gun fights in the western Midlands over Christmas, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) has said.
In a statement, ZimParks public relations manager Caroline Washaya-Moyo said an assortment of poaching equipment, carcasses and elephant tasks were recovered during the operations.
“Rangers followed a spoor at Sengwa Wildlife Research Institute Area in western Gokwe leading to the discovery of eight poachers cutting fresh buffalo carcass,” she said.
“The poachers shot at the rangers leading to a fierce exchange of gunfire that resulted in two poachers - Kudakwashe Sibanda (16) of Wachi village in Chief Simuchembo and Samson Ncube also from the same area – sustaining injuries and were captured.
“Unfortunately Julius Sibanda also from Simuchembo died of his injuries and his body was taken to Gokwe Hospital mortuary.”
Items recovered following the fire-fight included a male adult buffalo carcass and rifles.
In a separate incident, five poachers from Zimbabwe’s northern neighbor, Zambia, illegally swooped into Hurungwe Safari Area where they encountered ZimParks rangers and another gun-battle ensued.
“Themba Mpansi was wounded and captured while four other poachers escaped. We recovered one elephant tusk, two AK47 magazines, 40 rounds of AK 47 ammunition, camping equipment and grocery items,” Washaya-Moyo added.
Poaching has become a huge ecological problem for the country with at least 100 elephants said to have been killed through cyanide poisoning in the Hwange National Park that.
Meanwhile ZimParks has reported a hundred percent uptake of all its facilities country-wide during the festive season.
“We have seen a rise in locals visiting tourists’ attraction areas,” said Washaya-Moyo.
“ZimParks has come up with strategies that will see the domestic tourism rise outside public holidays. Already we have introduced day trips to Chinhoyi which have been well received.
“This has prompted ZimParks to consider other destinations where day trips will be introduced for 2014.”
Washaya-Moyo stressed that locals have now adopted a culture of visiting tourist attraction areas during holidays.
“Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park, Mana Pools, Chinhoyi caves and Nyanga National Park remain the biggest tourist attractions for local, regional and international tourists,” she said.