Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) rangers shot and killed two suspected poachers during an armed battle at Rifa Conservation Camp in Chirundu over the weekend, as the authority moves in to kill armed intruders in protected areas.
The rangers recovered a rifle and freshly poached ivory.
ZimParks Head of Communications, Tinashe Farawo confirmed the incident and said rangers would not hesitate to kill poachers, as the authority had a shoot to kill policy if they found intruders armed within national parks.
“There was armed contact with suspected poachers in Chirundu. Two suspects were shot dead in that armed contact, the rangers managed to recover a rifle and freshly poached ivory. Investigations are still in progress and this is the information we have now,” he said.
“We are warning would-be poachers that national parks are no go areas for criminal activities, if you are found in a protected area armed there is no way that we can apprehend you, you will be shot on site.”
Farawo said ever since the shoot to kill policy was adopted, poaching cases have reduced, noting that one’s presence at the national park was illegal, more so when armed.
“So national parks are no go areas for criminal activities, we shoot to kill,” he summed.
In 2018 then Minister of Environment Water and Climate Change Minister Oppah Muchinguri urged ZimParks rangers not to hesitate but shoot and kill poachers.
She noted that some poachers have become sophisticated and make use of guns and poison to kill animals like elephants.
Farawo was recently reported saying over the last three or four years, ZimParks has engaged in about 30 armed fights with suspected poachers, where a dozen were killed while some got injured.
In an interview with CITE, a local tour operator and a safari hunting business owner in Lobangwe, Matesti area in Hwange, Wisdom Bushe Neshavi, said communities need constant education on the negative effects brought about by poaching and learn the value of wildlife.
“That is why it is important to engage the communities and educate them on safeguarding wildlife and ecosystems while discouraging them from poaching, especially now when they can be killed. Since wildlife is vast, we also need more scouts who can be going around looking out for animals and at the same time engaging with communities, he said.