Two suspected Zambian poachers were killed by Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) rangers at the Zambezi National Park in Victoria Falls on Saturday following a heavy exchange of gun fire, a conservation group has revealed.
Trevor Lane of Bhejane Trust said the rangers stumbled on a group of suspected poachers from Zambia and it is believed that they had recently entered the country.
“The details are still sketchy but it happened early this morning. Parks rangers were on their daily routine duty when they met face to face with 10 Zambian poachers at the Zambezi National Park,” he said.
“The poachers had obviously crossed on the full moon and were making their way inland to poach elephants.
“The group comprised of one Zambian believed armed with heavy weapon (375/458) rifles, another with AK47 for protection and 8 porters.
“The parks patrol engaged them and shots were exchanged. Parks shot dead the poacher with AK47, and a porter- the rest of the group fled leaving everything behind including the gun, 100 kilograms meal-mealie and personal items,” said Lane.
Lane said the group had not yet accomplished their mission as no elephant tusks were recovered.
Conservationists say there is an upsurge of Zambian poachers working with Chinese poachers that are roaming Zimbabwe’s national parks and killing elephants for their tusks.
In February, two bodies of suspected Zambian poachers were found floating on the Zambezi River days after they escaped an ambush.
The duo were part of a suspected poaching syndicate which escaped after exchanging gun fire with police in the Jambezi area on February 6.
The two have since received pauper’s burials after their families failed to identify their bodies due to their decomposed state.
They were both naked and the other body had both legs missing.
Police fired warning shots and the suspects returned fire leading police to arrest one of the accomplices, Christopher Mandaya who is currently serving his year term after pleading guilty to the charge.
He was found in possession of 25 rounds of ammunition, two axes and butcher knives and two kilogrammes of dagga
Efforts to get comment from Zimparks spokesperson Caroline Washaya Moyo were fruitless.