Zambian poacher shot dead in Zimbabwe


Independent Online, Oscar Nkala

Date Published

Gaborone – A Zambian poacher was killed by Zimbabwean game rangers in a gun-battle that led to recovery of a rifle and 13 rounds of live ammunition at the Matetsi National Park, near the resort town of Victoria Falls on Saturday morning, a leading conservation group has reported.

According to a statement released on Sunday by Trevor Lane, chairman of the Victoria Falls-based conservation group Bhejane Trust, two other suspects escaped arrest and abandoned their cellphones after being ambushed by game rangers.

The rangers recovered the carcass of an elephant the poachers had just killed. The tusks were still intact.

“Two shots were reported early on Sunday morning, and parks rangers immediately reacted by deploying patrols in the area,”said Lane, adding that “two more shots were then heard, and the patrol went to investigate and found a dead elephant with the tusks intact”.

Giving further details Lane said: “They went into ambush and three Zambians showed up. The rangers killed the gunner in the ensuing gun-battle, but the other two escaped. They recovered the body, a .375 rifle, 13 rounds and two cell phones”.

Further, he said the poaching operation confirmed a new hit-and-run tactic developed by Zambian poachers, who enter Zimbabwe in small groups and escape back to their country immediately after committing poaching crimes.

The fatal shooting of the poacher came a few days after the bodies of two more Zambian poachers were found floating on the Zambezi River near Victoria Falls.

Police believe the two dead poachers could have been shot in a February 14 gun-battle with game rangers.

The relatives of the deceased have since collected the bodies for burial in Zambia.

Another Zambian poacher who was arrested with 25 rounds of ammunition, two axes, butcher knives and 2kg of dagga was due to appear at the Victoria Falls Magistrates Court on Monday.

Christopher Malasa Mandanya is facing charges of illegal possession of firearms, possession of drugs and illegal entry into Zimbabwe.