By Rhishja Cota-Larson
Just over three tons of ivory were discovered missing from the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) strongroom, and two game scouts have been apprehended in what is believed to be an “inside job”. The suspects were identified by the Zambia Daily Mail as William Phiri and Abel Kahali. Vehicles belonging to Phiri and Kahali were also seized.
ZAWA director general Edwin Matokwani believes the theft was a “well-coordinated inside job”.
According to Muvi TV, two journalists — Bruce Mwale from Muvi TV and Delphine Zulu from Times of Zambia — were detained by police for filming one of the suspects.
The journalists’ equipment was confiscated, and although a video camera was later returned, the footage had apparently been erased.
Jason Bell, Director for the Elephant Programme of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), said that the massive ivory haul stolen from ZAWA had been confiscated less than a month earlier.
Ivory stockpiles are a tempting source of rich pickings for crooks.
Recent ivory thefts Last month in Botswana, 26 elephant tusks were stolen from a Department of Wildlife warehouse in Kasane. Botswana’s Weekend Post reported that 21 officers from the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism were questioned in connection with the theft.
A suspect was later arrested in Zambia in possession of elephant tusks marked “Botswana Wildlife Kasane”.
In February, just over a ton of ivory was stolen in Mozambique, according to Dr. Tom Milliken from TRAFFIC. More....