Swift justice for notorious Zim pangolin poacher

2016-04-25 15:26

Harare - A man who poached a rare ground pangolin in western Zimbabwe has been arrested, tried, and sentenced to nine years in jail - all in little more than 24 hours, according to a conservation group.

The African Pangolin Working Group named the man as Mose Masuku and said he was a "notorious" poacher of both pangolin and ivory.

His swift arrest, conviction and jailing was a sign of just how hard the authorities were trying to clamp down on poaching in Zimbabwe, where dozens of elephants were poisoned with cyanide for their tusks in 2013 and 2015.

"Masuku was arrested [in the] early hours of Tuesday morning, and by 10am Wednesday, he had been convicted to 9 years in jail by the Hwange magistrate," the group said in a post to Facebook.

The pangolin survived and had since been released.

The Tikki Hywood Trust welcomed the conviction. "It was a positive week for law enforcement in Zimbabwe. Our sincere appreciation to all departments within Zimbabwe who have made this possible," it said.

The trust is involved in the rehabilitation of rescued pangolins.

The official Herald reported on Friday that a Harare man, found with a dead pangolin in his fridge, had been sentenced to nine years in jail.

But in this case, the wheels of justice turned much more slowly.

Detectives found the pangolin in 38-year-old Henry Makunde's home in the Harare township of Mbare in January, the Herald said. But he was only sentenced on Wednesday.

Pangolins are shy nocturnal mammals. Their body parts, particularly their scales, are valued in traditional Asian and African medicine.

The African Pangolin Working Group said that, so far this year, 41 people had been arrested in Zimbabwe for alleged pangolin poaching.

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