Father and son shot dead by Zim rangers had stopped to fix car - parks authority

2016-03-14 16:59

Harare - A father and son mistakenly shot and killed by rangers in a reserve plagued by poachers in Zimbabwe had stopped to fix a car problem, the state national parks authority said in a statement on Monday.

Claudio Chiarelli, 50 and his son Massimiliano, who was in his 20s, "had stopped to attend to a mechanical problem on their vehicle" in the Mana Pools National Park, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said in its first public confirmation of Sunday's tragedy.

In a tragic irony, the pair, believed to be professional hunters, had come to help the rangers in an anti-poaching operation after reports of gunshots in the reserve. 

Rangers "saw a fresh fire place in dense vegetation which they suspected to have been used by poachers," the authority said.

"The rangers continued following the spoor of the poachers, they later saw movement in the thicket, heard voices and opened fire accidentally shooting and killing on [the] spot the pair," the statement said. 

The rangers were due for uplift which means they had nearly finished their shift.

The Chiarellis were of Italian descent, though the father had reportedly lived in Africa "for decades".

Italy's La Reppublica newspaper said:"[Claudio Chiarelli] together with his son Massimiliano, according to our diplomatic representative in Zimbabwe, were asked by rangers to help in an anti-poaching operation in the Mana Pools reserve, an area where hunting is not allowed.

"The facts [of what happened] still have to be established."

Mana Pools is well-known for its elephants and other spectacular species of game. It is home to four of the Big Five. There are no rhinos in the reserve.

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