500 elephants poached: Bigwigs fingered in Hwange

via Bigwigs fingered in Hwange elephant poisoning by Caiphas Chimhete for The Standard October 20, 2013

AT least 500 elephants have been killed by poachers in the past five months at Hwange National Park and surrounding areas in a scandal that is said to involve senior government officials now battling to cover their tracks, investigations by The Standard have revealed.

Sources said the senior government officials, including cabinet ministers, are now threatening villagers, whom they sent to kill elephants on their behalf, so they don’t reveal their names.

Some villagers are said to have been offered money to buy their silence.

“There are five ministers [names supplied] implicated in this saga, but it’s difficult to nail them down because they have used threats and money to cover their tracks,” said.

one source. “Some of them are said to have actually supplied cyanide to runners who in turn gave it to villagers to poison water sources.”

Another source said there are “tigers and flies” in the elephant-cyanide death scandal, with the net targeting the flies, who are the villagers that were used by powerful politicians to poison the elephants on their behalf.

“The scale of the killings does point to a well-organised syndicate that cannot involve villagers alone,” said the source. “It involves villagers, law enforcement agents and senior politicians but when such things break out, you don’t hear about the big fish.”

Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) chairman, Johnny Rodrigues also said the extent of the elephant-poisoning scandal involved a sophisticated network of poachers that included top government officials and law enforcement agents.

“There are big fish involved,” he said. “If government wants to get to the bottom of the matter, it must find a proper investigator, otherwise everything is going to be swept under the carpet and a few villagers will be sacrificed.”

Already, some villagers have been jailed for 15 years for poaching.

Government says about 100 elephants have so far died of poisoning but others said the figure was too conservative.

Rodrigues said 300 elephant carcases were discovered in Tsholotsho in May, 15 in Nyagoma and 10 in the Dete area.

“There is a possibility that more will be found,” he said.

MDC-T Shadow Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Thamsanga Mahlangu alleged that the poachers were connected to well-known senior Zanu PF members, the Zimbabwe Wildlife Management Authority officials and police officers.

He also claimed that some of the villagers that were arrested had been paid “as little as US$500 by the well-linked Zanu PF syndicates” to poison the water wells with the cyanide chemicals.

“While authorities have left no stone unturned in arresting villagers, they have cast a blind eye on the major players connected to government that are involved in this international syndicate of illegal trade in ivory,” he said.

Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner, Charity Charamba denied knowledge of the involvement of senior government officials in elephant poaching.

“I don’t know that [senior government officials are involved]. I am hearing it from you,” she said. “What I know is a number of people have been arrested. I don’t have the figure with me here.”

National Parks and Wildlife Authority spokesperson, Caroline Washaya-Moyo could not be reached for comment over accusations that some of the authority’s members were part of the poaching syndicate.



  • comment-avatar
    antonio delgado 10 years ago

    These ‘bigwigs’ need to be name,shamed and prosecuted.

    the villagers have to be protected against recrimination at all costs BUT they must be prosecuted as well for being involoved for money….

  • comment-avatar
    Lindy Forster 10 years ago

    You are a Bunch of COWARDS each and everyone of you.You allowed ZANU to steal your country,SHAME on YOU. You deserve what you get.

    • comment-avatar

      Lindy Forster, your ignorance to what has gone on in Zimbabwe and what continues to go on there amazes me.

  • comment-avatar

    Names names names who are these disgusting creatures? Who are the evil people receiving the ivory? This needs international investigation and to hell with Charity Charamba who is no doubt one of them.

  • comment-avatar
    Murairwa 10 years ago

    Kana mazita evanhu vacho achizikanzwa why cant you publish them. Kuti nyebere. Please stop peddling lies. publish these names and shame them. You claim to have ethics yet you do not practice them. If you know and are right, say it so the whole wold knows.

  • comment-avatar
    Torai hupfumi 10 years ago

    Mr Mugabe why are you queit these people will not be published i know when you get involved the ball will start rolling. Please do something before these villagers are taken by the police officers.Action is needed now.

  • comment-avatar
    Mncedisi 10 years ago

    Oh poor Zanu will you ever get anything right?You are your own worst enemy and greed will bring you down.Your days are numbered the lord is not blind

  • comment-avatar
    Batai Mazwi 10 years ago

    Say their names out,dont make the poor villagers suffer.