via Two white rhinos shot and killed in Zim | SW Radio Africa by Alex Bell on Friday, November 8, 2013
The poaching crisis in Zimbabwe continues to intensify, with the shooting and dehorning of two white rhinos in the protected Matopos National Park.
The carcasses were discovered on Thursday, according to the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force.
The Zimbabwe Parks Authority (ZimParks) has not yet confirmed the shooting.
But according to the Task Force chairman, Johnny Rodrigues, the animals were found on Thursday morning, both with their horns removed.
Rhino horn holds huge value for poachers, who sell the horns on to mainly Eastern buyers for tens of thousands of dollars. In nations like China, Vietnam and Laos rhino horn is believed to have healing or aphrodisiac properties, and the demand for horn has seen the animals being poached to dangerously low levels.
In South Africa alone, the number of rhinos killed for their horns is close to 800 since January this year. And in West Africa, the wild black rhino has officially been listed as extinct this week.
The poaching crisis in Zimbabwe has been making international news headlines, after the mass poisoning of elephants in the Hwange National Park.
ZimParks has said that 100 elephants have died as a result of the poisoning, by way of the toxic cyanide chemical that was used to lace salt licks in Hwange. Nine people have been arrested since the first carcasses of poisoned elephants were found in late August.
Rodrigues said on Friday that more elephant carcasses have been discovered this week, according to his sources. The Task Force claims that more than 300 elephants have died since July as a result of cyanide poisoning.
“More elephants have died in Hwange, so this is a big issue and this is getting out of hand. We have an investigator up there, but every time we send someone in, they get kicked out. There is a shutdown on information coming out,” Rodrigues said.
Rodrigues has previously said there is a ‘clampdown’ on information leaving the park, claiming a ‘cover up operation’ is underway to protect government officials allegedly linked to poaching syndicates.
Environment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere recently set up a six member Wildlife Ecological Trust as part of government efforts to support conservation and ant-poaching mechanisms in the country.
But Rodrigues said that a lack of political will and a failure to “make good on promises to the community,” meant the poaching crisis was likely to keep getting worse.
“The community can still make more than what was promised them by getting involved in poaching, because those promises by government were never kept. The political will is also not there and there are a lot of cover ups on the ground, because the greed has taken over and there’s a lot of money involved,” Rodrigues said.
In the elephant poaching saga, all the arrested individuals have been local community members said to be working for poaching syndicates. ZimParks rangers have meanwhile been accused of using torture and assault against some villagers in Tsholotsho, after they were accused being involved in the poaching.