By Moses Matenga
Environment, Water and Climate minister Saviour Kasukuwere yesterday warned Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority officials against engaging in corrupt activities.
He also implored the judiciary to deal decisively with “ringleaders” of poaching rackets in the country instead of freeing them despite overwhelming evidence.
Kasukuwere told journalists in Harare that disciplinary action would be meted on corrupt officials.
“Let me take this opportunity to implore our parks rangers and officers to shun corruption and to decisively deal with it as it has potential to tear the authority apart and to scare conservation partners away,” he said.
“Appropriate disciplinary measures should be taken on those found engaging in corrupt activities.”
Kasukuwere thanked the police and the judiciary for their role in the fight against poaching, but expressed concern over some judgments that have left criminals scot-free.
“We have seen some of the criminals walking scot-free. I believe and I say this carefully that there are underhand dealings and call upon those tasked with the judiciary to deal with it,” he said.
“We can’t have masterminds free yet those they sent are in prison. We are raising this with relevant authorities.”
This followed the release recently of some alleged poaching masterminds in Bulawayo, who were reportedly behind the killing of elephants with poison in the vast Hwange National Park which left 115 jumbos dead.
Scores of people were arrested following the death of elephants after poachers used cyanide to poison water sources and pan salts for the animals.
Kasukuwere was speaking after a feedback meeting by the Wildlife Ecological Trust which was sourcing support for wildlife conservation.
He said the board of trustees had raised almost $1,741 million worth of field equipment, cash and vehicles.
“Let me inform you that 10 of the vehicles donated and delivered are already in Hwange National Park,” he said.
“I am reliably informed that the money raised will be used to meet game water supply and provide field equipment in Hwange National Park.”
He said despite the measures being taken, poachers were finding other ways of gaining entry into the park illegally.
At least 30 Zambian poachers moving in two groups gained entry into Hwange and Zambezi National Parks recently.