Rumphi — Police in Rumphi are keeping in custody a man and his son for being found in possession of elephant meat and tusks which are believed to have been killed in Vwaza Wildlife Reserve.
Rumphi Police Spokesperson, Victor Khamisi, confirmed the development Monday and identified the duo as Justin Fungwe, 58 and Zondiwe Fungwe, 29 from Majiwa Village in the area of Traditional Authority Mpherembe in Mzimba District.
Khamisi said the duo were arrested by Parks and Wildlife Officers who raided their home after getting wind of information that the two were selling game meat.
“Vwaza wildlife office received reports that the two suspects were selling game meat. Officers followed up the tip off and raided the home of the suspects where they found elephant meat, skin and two tusks,” explained Khamisi.
He said the accused are expected to appear in court soon where they will answer six charges of illegal entry (into the game reserve), conveying weapon, hunting and killing protected species, possessing government trophy, setting fire in protected area, as well as, loitering in the protected area.
According to the police publicist, the suspects confessed to police detectives they had killed the elephant for its tusks which weighed 8kgs. He said this is the third time Justin Fungwe has been arrested on poaching related charges.
“Justin was previously arrested in 2011 and 2013 for poaching in the protected area. On the first occasion, he was convicted and fined K6, 000.Then two years later, he served a jail term of two years on the offence of killing protected animals,” Khamisi said.
Elephants are the most dominant animals at Vwaza Game Reserve besides Hippos and buffaloes and are, therefore, a major tourist attraction to the wildlife reserve.
Poaching is a major factor contributing to the dwindling in numbers of elephants in the country’s protected areas in general and Vwaza Game Reserve in particular.