Nqobile Tshili Chronicle Correspondent
POLICE in Bulawayo have recovered elephant tusks weighing 19 kilogrammes believed to have been smuggled from Hwange National Park. The ivory was recovered on Sunday following a random police search on the Victoria Falls-Bulawayo train. Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Precious Simango confirmed the development.
“The ivory weighing 19kg was recovered from a train which was coming from Victoria Falls. No one has been arrested yet. The suspects could have dumped the ivory after realising that police were randomly searching luggage,” said Insp Simango.
She could not immediately ascertain the value of the recovered ivory. “Our investigations are in progress. We’re still searching for the suspects. We appeal to members of the public who might have information regarding their whereabouts to come forward,” said Insp Simango.
Poaching and smuggling of ivory are rife in the country and recently a large number of elephants were killed at Hwange National Park through cyanide poisoning. The Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri has expressed concerns over rampant poaching activities which she said were being carried out by organised criminal syndicates in high positions.
“We’re aware that an increasing number of highly placed people, our rangers, safari operators, professional hunters, land owners, some rural district councils as well as some communities are involved in poaching,” said Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri.
At the beginning of this month, Zimbabwe Parks and Wild Life Management Authority was forced to redeploy 29 rangers after they were implicated in poaching of animals at Hwange National Park.
Yesterday national police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said the police will be out in full force to curb criminal activities during this festive season. She said 45,000 officers have been deployed as a measure to maintain peace and tranquillity.