Zimbabwe Authorities Foil Parks Employees’ Bid to Smuggle Ivory

By Oscar Nkala

A senior ecologist and two game rangers employed by the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority in Hwange National Park have been arrested
in connection with a foiled bid to smuggle at least eight elephant tusks to an unspecified destination via Harare International Airport.

At a press conference in Harare earlier this week, parks authority spokeswoman Caroline-Washaya Moyo said that senior ecologist Edwin Makuwe and game rangers Pedzisai Nyoni and John Masimba will soon appear in court on charges of stealing and attempting to smuggle the ivory.

The tusks have been identified as part of a large haul stolen last year from the authority’s warehouse in Hwange.

Police detectives from the Precious Commodities and Minerals Unit of the Border Control Division arrested the three men on October 7 at the Hwange Safari Lodge Main Camp.

The arrest followed the seizure the day before of eight elephant tusks as they were being loaded onto an Air Zimbabwe plane. The destination of the flight has not been revealed.

“The offense was discovered during X-ray scanning [of the cargo],” Washaya-Moyo said. “The Authority wants to ensure that poaching and illegal smuggling of wildlife and wildlife products is under control.”

She declined to give further details, saying that doing so could jeopardize ongoing investigations.

A parks ranger, who requested anonymity, said the tusks were traced back to Hwange after the police found a falsified ivory export permit representing the parks authority, which he had unwittingly signed.

Examination of serial numbers on the tusks showed that they were part of the large ivory haul from the stockpile in a warehouse in Hwange late last year.

The warehouse is the regional holding center for all tusks and rhino horns recovered in Hwange and surrounding conservancies from poachers, the culling of herds, and deaths from natural causes.

“We believe we’re on the verge of resolving the warehouse —> Read More