Takunda Maodza News Editor
At least 200 kilogrammes of ivory worth over half a million dollars was intercepted at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport on Monday, while destined for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority (ZimParks) confirmed the interception yesterday and said it is on high alert. The owner of the ivory, which was boxed, was still not known by yesterday. The interception of the loot followed a joint operation by parks and security agencies at the international airport.
ZimParks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo confirmed the development in an interview with The Herald yesterday. Investigations to track down the criminals behind the attempted smuggling of the ivory were underway. The Herald is reliably informed that the net is fast closing on the suspects.
“The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority officers at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, working with other security agencies, on Monday intercepted 200kg of ivory destined for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia,” said Mr Farawo.
“Efforts to get the owner are underway.” Mr Farawo said the case had since been handed over to the Zimbabwe Republic Police. “The matter has been handed over to the ZRP Border Control and Minerals Unit,” he said. “As parks, we are on high alert. We will not allow such illegal activities to happen and this is in line with President Mnangagwa’s policy of zero tolerance on corruption.
“We are excited that we are moving in line with the Head of State and Government. I can assure you, we will get to the bottom of this matter, as the net is closing in on the culprits.” The country has 84 000 elephants, which it considers too many, but is unable to sell ivory due to CITES restrictions. Poaching has seen a good number of elephants being killed through shooting or poisoning using cyanide.
A total of 893 jumbos were poached between 2013 and 2016. Out of this number, 249 elephants were killed through poisoning using cyanide or shooting.