Suspected Zambian poachers shot dead in Zim

Elephant tusks. (AFP)
Elephant tusks. (AFP)

Harare - State game rangers in northern Zimbabwe this weekend shot dead two suspected poachers from Zambia, a conservation group reported.

The Bhejane Trust said a group of 10 poachers "crossed [the Zambezi River] in the full moon and were making their way inland to poach elephant" when they ran into a patrol of rangers from Zimbabwe's state parks and wildlife management authority on Saturday. 

Shots were fired and a poacher armed with an AK-47 rifle was killed, as was another member of the gang believed to be a porter, the trust said in an update. The other eight men managed to escape. 

Commenters on The Bhejane Trust's Facebook page have highlighted the fact that the gang was carrying 100kg of maize meal as well as weapons. "Obviously planned for a long stay," wrote one reader.

Poaching activity is often stepped up when the moon is full, because it is easier to see animals.

Press reports last month said that at least six Zambian poachers have been shot dead in Zimbabwe since the beginning of the year.

Zambia's deputy tourism minister has claimed that Chinese ivory trafficking syndicates are sending Zambian poachers into Zimbabwe. 

The Bumi Hills Anti-Poaching Unit (BHAPU), which operates from the shores of Lake Kariba, said on Sunday: "I wonder just how long it will take the Zambian authorities to act to prevent more deaths and start tackling the syndicates operating from their soil?!"

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