TWO poachers are battling for their lives in the intensive care unit in Bulawayo and Harare after they were shot by game rangers early last month.
One of the poachers had his chin blown off in the shoot-out while the other one had his ankle shattered by bullets. The two were transferred to the intensive care units in Harare and Bulawayo from Binga hospital two weeks ago.
Clement Siapawo, 30, from Siamuchembo in Gokwe was transferred to Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare as his chin was damaged to the extent that food was coming through the bullet hole.
Knowledge Siachibataka, 36, also from Siamuchembo, Gokwe, had his ankle ripped open by a bullet. The two were part of a gang of poachers who were cornered by rangers on the night of September 6. The shootout left one poacher dead. A third accomplice, Choice Muntale, 33, from Siabuwa, was also shot on the leg.
The three are being charged with unlawfully hunting in a Safari area and possessing elephant tusks after they allegedly entered Chete Safari in Binga where they killed an elephant and took its tusk, according to prosecutor Bruce Maphosa.
“On September 6 the accused went to a river called Rwizirukuru at Chete Safari area in Siabuwa, Binga, where they killed a female elephant and removed two tusks each weighing 5kgs.
“Rangers heard a gunshot and patrolled the area. At 10pm they came across the poachers who had made fire and monitored them while they were cooking,” said Maphosa.
The accused were arrested after the shootout and have not been asked to plead because of their condition.
Parks and Wildlife rangers appear to have adopted a shoot-to-kill strategy after two men suspected to be poachers were also shot dead by rangers early last month in a bush near Victoria Falls.
At least a hundred elephants died after they were allegedly poisoned with cyanide by poachers in the Hwange National Park earlier this year.