Endangered species fall prey to poachers

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Zimbabwe’s wildlife population is facing depletion due to rampant poaching activities.

The Zimbabwe Conservation Taskforce (ZCT) reported Monday that there had been a worrying increase in the slaughter of wildlife in national parks since the controversial presidential and parliamentary elections in March.

Endangered species such as the white rhinoceros, elephants and zebras were under serious threat in parks managed by the state-run Parks and Wildlife Management Authority with at least 40 black rhinos having been killed over the past three years.

“As the economic situation rapidly deteriorates in Zimbabwe, we are receiving reports that poaching is escalating at an alarming rate,” ZCT chairman Johnny Rodrigues said in a statement.

“Five white rhino have recently been killed by poachers. Three, including a baby, were shot in the Chivero National Park. Prior to this, the rhino population in Chivero has always been very well-protected and these are the first rhino that have ever been killed in this area.

“The other two were also shot in a National Park but we have not yet confirmed the exact location. Elephants are being shot regularly in the Kariba area. One informant reported that he personally knows of 18 that have been shot this year.”

The ZCT also say the number of animals caught in wire snares are on the high and the drug needed to tranquilize the animals in order to remove the snares was in short supply, thus hampering their efforts to rescue the endangered animals.

The drug, which is not available in Zimbabwe, costs R2 200 or USD300 per vial.

“Many animals are therefore dying an agonizing, lingering death. Some elephants that are part of the Presidential Herd in Hwange have been sighted with wire snares on them”

Poaching has been rife in Zimbabwe since Zanu-PF sympathizers with tacit backing of Robert Mugabe’s government, began invading white-owned farms eight years ago.

Besides poaching, there have also been reports of illegal and uncontrolled trophy hunting on the former white-owned conservancies that were grabbed by some powerful Mugabe lieutenants and some ruling Zanu-PF officials.

However, officials deny that politicians and ruling party officials are behind the rampant poaching activities.

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