By Byron Mutingwende
Seven poachers suspected of hunting for a Rhinoceros where arrested at the Save Valley Conservancy. On the 19th day of December 2017 Godfrey Makechemu (47), Joel Matuku (42), Ignatious Maiga (30), Farai Chauno (27), James Makumba (33), Jevas Mauto (39) and Celestino Shate (39) appeared before Masvingo magistrate Takawira Mugabe charged with contravening Section 45 (1)(a) of the Parks and Wildlife Act Chapter 20:14, which criminalises the hunting for specially protected animals, Section 4 (1)(b) of the firearms Act Chapter 10:09, illegal possession of Firearms & ammunition and Section 22 (1)(a) of the Firearms Act, illegal possession and fitting of a silencer to a firearm. On 21 December the accused persons were remanded in custody until December 27.
On the 17th of December the accused persons hatched a plan to hunt and kill Rhinos at Save Valley Conservancy (SVC). Using a Toyota Fortuner, the seven accused persons proceeded to SVC. They entered into the Conservancy being armed with an unmarked 404 rifle fitted with a telescopic device and a silencer, 11 rounds of ammunition, an axe and bags with food.
Whilst about 6 kilometres in Savuli Ranch, the accused persons spotted a male black Rhino and fired one shot. The Rhino was wounded on its shoulder but escaped bleeding heavily.
On the 18th of December, the accused persons gave a chase but were intercepted by game rangers and they began to look for a way out. The game rangers coordinated its manpower resulting in an ambush being set by another team in one of the escape routes along Chiremwaremwa road outside the conservancy. A Toyota Fortuner vehicle was then spotted and was stopped at gun point where the accused persons were subsequently arrested. A 404 rifle was recovered, an axe and the 11 rounds of ammunition.
Rhinos are currently facing a high risk of extinction. Poaching is one of the greatest threats to their survival. Rhinos do not need poaching they need protecting. Speak Out For Animals, an animal organisation is watching brief the matter and ensuring that the interests of the innocent victim (the injured rhino) are protected.