By Chusa Sichone
A farmer of Muchinga Province who killed elephants in North Luangwa National Park using poison has been sentenced to six years imprisonment with hard labour.
The Mpika magistrate’s court sentenced Dennis Kateka to 12 months for unlawful use of carbofuran and entry into the national park.
The court sentenced Kateka to 24 months for hunting of vultures and another 24 months for hunting of the Batelea eagle.
All the sentences will run concurrently.
This is according to a statement released by Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) public relations officer Readith Muliyunda in Lusaka yesterday.
Kateka was fined K2, 000 for unlawful possession of 19 x 375 ammunitions and fined K500 for unlawful possession of 4 x 12 bore ammunitions, offences to which he pleaded guilty.
He was convicted and sentenced on Friday last week.
Kateka, as a second offender, was committed to the High Court for sentencing on the charge of hunting elephants in the park.
The offence attracts a jail sentence of not less than seven years.
Records show that Kateka was in 2007 arrested for possessing 37kg of elephant meat and was jailed for two years.
He was arrested by ZAWA officers in Mpika on November 24, 2013 following a tip off.
“Upon investigation, officers discovered four carcasses of elephants at different points in the park.
“Further, 476 dead vultures and two Batelea eagles were also discovered with the dead elephants,” Ms Muliyunda said.
Samples were collected from the carcasses and sent to the Ministry of Health laboratory in Lusaka for specialist examination.
Carbofuran was detected in all of them.
It was at that point that Kateka was named as a suspect.
Upon searching his house, a one kilogramme packet of carbofuran was found hidden under his mattress in a small bag which also contained 19 live ammunitions for a rifle.
Four live shotgun shells and a pocket scale, commonly used by poachers to weigh ivory, were also discovered.