Harare - A ruling Zanu-PF party member of parliament has gone on trial in Zimbabwe on charges of illegally possessing a pangolin.The trial of Hubert Nyanhongo, MP for mountainous Nyanga North, began on Tuesday in the south-eastern town of Chipinge, reports the Manica Post in its latest edition.Nyanhongo and his three co-accused pleaded not guilty to the crime, which carries a mandatory nine-year jail term on conviction. 'Incriminating evidence'Game ranger Samuel Gona gave “incriminating evidence” at the start of the trial, “arguing that the accused were trapped after agreeing to sell the pangolin for $5000”, said the paper. Nyanhongo, a former deputy minister of energy, is accused of trying to sell the pangolin to Gona at Birchenough Bridge, an hour’s drive north-west of Chipinge, in April.Rangers conducted arrestGona, posing as a buyer, alerted fellow rangers who conducted the arrest of the MP and his three colleagues at Birchenough Bridge Hospital.Defence lawyer Langton Mhungu dismissed the charges. He said his clients had given a lift to a ruling party activist from Nyanga. Unbeknown to them, the activist, identified only as Kapenda, had a live pangolin in his bag.Most trafficked mammal“The rangers rushed to arrest my clients without further investigations,” said the lawyer.“Kapenda suddenly disappeared and police discovered a bag with a live pangolin in it,” the lawyer added.Pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, are the most illegally trafficked mammals on the planet. Their scales are used in traditional Asian medicines. Zimbabwe’s wildlife authority rescued at least 36 live pangolins from poachers and dealers last year.