via Elephant skins spotted in tobacco truck – The Zimbabwean 23.9.2015
Unnamed government officials have been accused of killing 10 elephants recently, amid reports of the tuskers’ skins being spotted in Harare.
Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) chairperson Johnny Rodrigues said a witness last week sighted the skins being loaded onto a one-tonne truck belonging to a tobacco company, and took photographs of them. According to a statement released by ZCTF, the truck was spotted at the Chase Motors service station in Mount Pleasant and was marked Mashonaland Tobacco Company.
“We are not accusing anyone here, but it seems as though elephant skins are being exported to China and other destinations disguised as tobacco consignments,” he told The Zimbabwean.
“We have received a report that 10 elephants were recently killed to the west of Tsholotsho by two top government officials. The elephants were decapitated and the tusks were taken,” read the ZCTF statement.
Rodrigues said they were carrying out further investigations regarding the Tsholotsho poaching incident and would make an announcement soon. High-ranking government officials, state security agents and department of wildlife officers have for long been accused of conniving with poachers in game sanctuaries around the country.
Recent reports indicate that Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operatives had frustrated efforts by the police to sniff out poachers and seize their arms. An anti-poaching trainer, Rory Young, said he was forced to flee Zimbabwe after being threatened by security agents when he offered to help local officers with skills on fighting poaching.
The Zimbabwean government has insisted on exporting baby elephants to China and other countries despite outcries from animal welfare organisations. Former environment minister Saviour Kasukewere at one time claimed that elephant exports would bring in foreign currency, but government has resisted releasing figures of how much is being realised from the exportation of elephants and other wild animals.
Recently, 29 sables were captured in Zimbabwe near the Limpopo River as poachers attempted to smuggle them into South Africa through an undesignated point. Two of the sables were dead and a Theo Bronkhorst was arrested in connection with the attempted smuggling. He is out on $100 bail and will appear in court again on September 28. His property near Bulawayo was inspected and 27 live sable were found there as well as many animal skins.