Leonard Ncube Victoria Falls Reporter
POLICE have arrested a Parks and Wildlife Management Authority ranger on allegations of cyanide poisoning and conniving with some villagers to shoot and kill elephants in the Hwange National Park. Lucky Mubeuri and two Dete villagers Gilbert Mathe and Mkhululi Ngwenya appeared for initial remand before Hwange magistrate Portia Mhlanga-Moyo yesterday.
They were remanded in custody to today for bail ruling.
Mubeuri, who was stationed at Hwange Main Camp, is being charged individually for killing an elephant with an AK47 while on duty in the national park.
He is also jointly charged with Mathe and Ngwenya for poaching after investigations revealed that they played a part in the poisoning of a salt pan with cyanide leading to death of one elephant.
“He poached elephants while on duty and on patrol. “The accused allegedly asked Gilbert Mathe from Mutuya in Dete to come and collect the ivory and Mathe boarded a train to the site,” said Onias Nyathi prosecuting.
He said Mathe collected the ivory which he handed over to another suspect who is still at large. The tusks were taken to Harare for sale and Mubeuri was given $1, 400, it is alleged.
On the second case, Mubeuri allegedly connived with another suspect who is still at large to poison a salt pan in the national park. Mubeuri who was on duty patrolling the game park invited the unnamed suspect into the park and the two walked for six kilometres to the salt pan.
While there, the court heard, the two men applied cyanide to the salt lick and eventually caused the death of one elephant. Mubeuri told the police and parks investigators that he gave Mathe the cyanide used to poison the elephants.
He claimed that Mathe then handed it over to Ngwenya. A packet containing 3kg of cyanide was recovered. Givemore Muvhiringi of Dube and Company is representing the three suspects.
The arrest of the three comes at a time when a high powered security team of police, Minerals and Border Control Unit, Support Unit and Parks and Wildlife Management Authority has launched a joint offensive following a spate of cyanide inspired poaching of elephants.
About 70 elephants and many other animal species died within five weeks between September and October in Hwange National Park as a result.