via Ivory poacher jailed for 15 years | SW Radio Africa by Tichaona Sibanda on Thursday, October 17, 2013
Another suspected member of a poaching syndicate has been sentenced to serve 15 years behind bars, following the poisoning and killing of eleven elephants in the Hwange National Park last week.
Akim Masuku of Chezhou Village in Hwange who pleaded guilty to the charge of contravening the Parks and Wildlife Act (illegal possession of ivory) was slapped with the lengthy custodial sentence by Hwange provincial magistrate Rose Dube.
His co-accused Normal Ncube from the same village pleaded not guilty and will be tried in due course. He was remanded in custody to October 30th.
Namatirai Ngwasha prosecuting for the state, told the court that Parks rangers found carcasses of 11 elephants about 38 kilometres from the Hwange Main Camp while on a routine patrol.
The officials followed spoor that led them to Masuku and Ncube and they found them in possession of 200 granules of cyanide and 13 elephant tusks, leading to their arrest.
Cases of poaching are on the rise in Zimbabwe. Recently an estimated 300 elephant carcasses were discovered in Hwange and its surrounding districts. Almost all the elephants were poisoned with cyanide by poachers who hack off the tusks for the lucrative illegal ivory market. Numerous other animals have died as a result of the cyanide.
Last month, three other members of a syndicate were sentenced to at least 15 years each behind bars, following the poisoning of 81 elephants in the Hwange Park.
The poachers are paid a fraction of the value of the elephant tusks and are often the ones who are caught and pay the price. Meanwhile the heads of the syndicates continue to get away with the crime. A recent Mail and Guardian report on Zimbabwe’s poaching said that some of those involved are senior officials in government. They quoted the head of one of Zimbabwe’s largest tour operators who said: “Our government knows some of those behind this. I know for a fact names have been passed to the government, but there is nothing being done.”