Harare – Three staff members at Zimbabwe’s biggest game park have been arrested on suspicion of stealing ivory, officials said Wednesday, highlighting fears that wildlife smuggling is sometimes an “insider job”.
Ecologist Edwin Makuwe and game rangers Masimba Nyoni and John Pedzi were arrested on allegations of stealing ivory that was recovered at Harare international airport.
“The offence was discovered during X-ray scanning,” Caroline Washaya, spokesperson for the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, told AFP.
“The Authority wants to ensure that poaching and illegal smuggling of wildlife and wildlife products is under control.”
The three were due to appear in court on Wednesday.
Police, security guards and rangers have often been reported to be involved in poaching in Africa.
Last year, an entire police unit in Mozambique was restructured due to its involvement in poaching, according to the WWF.
Also last year, a former field ranger and two South African police officers were arrested in Kruger National Park over the poaching of a black rhinoceros.
The latest arrests in Zimbabwe follow the deaths from cyanide poisoning of 14 elephants in separate incidents in Hwange park and the resort town of Kariba last month.
Five men have been arrested on charges of poisoning 11 of the elephants in Hwange.