By Alex Bell
Two more men accused of poaching elephants in Zimbabwe were this week handed jail sentences, amid an ongoing crackdown that has followed the poisoning of dozens of elephants in the Hwange National Park.
Hwange magistrate Dambudzo Munati on Monday sentenced Isaac Phiri and Johanne Musaka to 11 years each in prison, after being arrested for elephant poaching in 2008. During the time of the pair’s arrest, more than 20 elephant tusks were recovered along with AK47 rifles.
Caroline Washaya-Moyo, the spokesperson for Zimbabwe’s Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks), on Wednesday welcomed the sentence, saying such jail terms are a ‘deterrent’ to would-be poachers.
“We will continue to engage the judiciary to ensure that there is consistency in all wildlife cases brought before the courts. It is critical for the judiciary to ensure that cases are completed to send the proper message,” Washaya-Moyo told SW Radio Africa.
She added: “The message is that it doesn’t matter if you were arrested in 2006, in 2008 or now, deterrent sentences are still going to be passed.”
The latest sentencing follows similar jail terms handed to five other poachers, linked to the mass cyanide poisoning of elephants ion the National Park this year. The discovery of more than 80 elephant carcasses in late August prompted international condemnation. Since then, Zimparks has said that the number of elephants carcasses discovered has risen to just over 100.
Washaya-Moyo reiterated this on Wednesday, saying claims that more than 300 elephants had died as a result of the cyanide poisoning were unfounded. More....