Abigail Mawonde Herald Correspondent
Over 440 Zimbabweans were arrested for poaching last year, translating to an increase of 4,5 percent over the previous year, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority revealed yesterday.
It also emerged that 31 Zambians, seven Mozambicans and a South African were arrested last year for poaching offences.
According to the report, 443 people were arrested last year, compared to 378 in 2015.
The authority’s spokesperson, Ms Caroline Washaya-Moyo, attributed the increase in arrests to the intensified efforts by law enforcement agencies in bringing such criminals to book.
“The year 2016 witnessed an upward increase in the number of wildlife cases that were concluded, resulting in at least 513 years being passed for mandatory nine-year sentences for wildlife crime compared to 414 years in 2015,” she said.
“The increase has been attributed to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority’s successful efforts in lobbying for the passing of the law which provides for such deterrent sentences by our courts.”
Ms Washaya-Moyo said Section 128 of the General Laws Management No. 5 5 had been very instrumental in ensuring that wildlife offenders were given lengthy jail terms as a deterrent measure.
She said efforts and enhanced intelligence capacity, anti-poaching activities and the establishment of a database had contributed to the success story.
“Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority has also collaborated with the Zimbabwe Republic Police and ZIMRA (Zimbabwe Revenue Authority),” said Ms Washaya-Moyo.
“This approach to bring wildlife offenders to book ensured timeous sharing of information. Awareness raising programmes that were done through holding of workshops ensured that all law enforcement agencies were brought on board on how to combat wildlife crime.”
According to the crime analysis report, 211 cases of poaching were investigated last year compared to 203 in 2015.
At least 116 of them were finalised last year, compared to 111 in 2015.
Also last year, 76 tusks were recovered, compared to 204 the previous year, and on ivory, 179 pieces were recovered last year down from the 325 recovered in 2015.
The wildlife authority recovered 36 live pangolins last year, compared to 34 in 2015, while eight pangolin trophies were recovered last year and five in 2015.
Recovered from poachers last year were 22 firearms and 169 rounds of ammunition, against 28 firearms and 236 rounds of ammunition in 2015.
At least 5 613 kilogrammes of abalone (shellfish) were also seized last year.