Ngoma — A game ranger in the Salambala conservancy, home to thousands of animal species in eastern Zambezi, was shot and injured by a lone poacher on Saturday morning, during one of his patrols.
Narrating his story to New Era from his hospital bed, Borniface Sezuni said during his patrol in an area known as Mwandwe, he noticed a poacher who raced after a herd of zebra and he immediately followed his trail.
Upon confronting the poacher who he managed to unarm and put under arrest, the poacher grabbed a gun and shot at him while he was busy contacting the authorities.
“When I was patrolling I heard gunshots. I saw one guy running after zebras. He shot and killed one zebra. When he saw me, I fired warning shots for him to put down his weapon. I told him that I am arresting him and I took his weapon. The moment I started calling the ministry of environment, he grabbed his gun and shot at me,” noted Sezuni.
According to Sezuni he reacted quickly by holding onto the gun and eventually overpowered the suspected poacher, but he managed to escape. “When he shot me in the thigh, I immediately grabbed his rifle as I was close to him but he ran away,” he said.
Help arrived a little too late and the suspected poacher had vanished into the thick bushes of Salambala when officials from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism arrived at the scene.
Sezuni was taken to the Katima Mulilo state hospital by the police where he is receiving treatment. He was waiting to be discharged when this reporter spoke to him.
However, information obtained from the Ngoma police station indicated that the poacher surrendered himself to the police yesterday and is set to appear in court today.
The manager of Salambala conservancy Boniface Saisai complained of an increase in poaching activities in the conservancy, adding that one of the reasons contributing to the escalation is the fact that poaching has become a very profitable activity.
“Poaching is increasing because people now are engaged in the business of selling either meat, tusks or horns. They target mostly elephant, eland, buffalo and other wild beasts,” said Saisai
He bemoaned the lack of training of game guards as affecting operations to protect wildlife. “Some of our rangers have not undergone training in law enforcement and therefore it is difficult for them when confronted with such situations.”
He further noted that the lack of authority for rangers to detain suspects is a loophole that has always been exploited by poachers who often undermine them.
“We don’t have power to detain, at the end of the day poachers don’t take our rangers seriously. If we were allowed even minimum force it would help.”
According to Saisai, the unabated slaughter of wildlife is costing the conservancy thousands of dollars which would have benefited the community.
“One elephant can generate up to N$130 000 through trophy hunting.” About 17 incidents of poaching have been reported in the Salambala conservancy from last year and over 33 arrests were made.