Game rangers in Zimbabwe recently engaged three poachers who had crossed into the country from Zambia, leading to the recovery of two rifles, one of them an AK 47 and several rounds of ammunition, the wildlife authority said Wednesday.
The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said in a statement that the shootout with the Zambian poachers took place in the Sharu general area of Rifa in the Zambezi Valley on Nov. 13.
"They (rangers) tracked for a short distance and came across a place where the poachers had camped. The poachers fired at the rangers who also fired back. This led to the poachers fleeing from their camp," the wildlife authority said.
Apart from the rifles and ammunition, the rangers also recovered cooking pots, maize meal with a Zambian label, cooking oil with a Zambian label, a hand axe and ripping knife, a lighting torch, various tablets and water purifying liquid and an assortment of clothing, among others.
But it seemed the poachers had not yet shot anything as they had just entered the country on the poaching expedition the previous night, the statement said.
The authority warned that it would be suicidal for poachers to enter areas under its jurisdiction as its rangers would be "be proactive in order to remain on top of the situation.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe police said they have arrested two people who allegedly had 12 kg of ivory in illegal possession. The ivory had been stashed into a 20 kg bag of maize meal.
About 12,000 elephants live in Zimbabwe, which has one of the world's largest elephant concentrations. However, like rhinos, the survival of elephants is under increasing threat from rampant poaching.
More than 100 elephants were killed by poachers using cyanide in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe's prime elephant sanctuary, over the past two months. A dozen suspects have been arrested, with three already sentenced to lengthy jail terms of more than 15 years.