By Andrea Crosta
Recent events and news have shown Zimbabwe for what it really is, a major regional and international hub for elephant poaching and ivory smuggling.
First there was the poisoning. Poachers have killed more than 300 elephants and countless other wild animals with cyanide in waterholes. It’s ironic that the full extent of the devastation in the country’s largest national park has been exposed by trophy hunters who discovered what conservationists say is the worst single massacre in southern Africa for 25 years.
The Elephant Action League actually considers it “a terrorist attack on elephants”.
A few poachers have been jailed for up to 15 years. However, as reported by New Zimbabwe, the political opposition MDC-T said that those arrested were insignificant foot-soldiers working at the beck and call of syndicates controlled by top Zanu-PF officials, the current governing party of the country.
Conservation groups in the country have called upon the government to investigate the possible links of politicians and influential businessmen to an international ivory smuggling ring operating in Zimbabwe. As reported by SW Radio Africa, Johnny Rodrigues, the head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said the recent discovery of elephant carcasses killed by cyanide in Hwange National Park shows that there is a sophisticated group of people involved in poaching.
Conservationists say ZimParks needs 10 times the number of rangers it currently has to be able to prevent cyanide from being used again.
Ivory and rhino horn are continuously shipped out through the porous South African and Mozambican borders. Some of the ivory from Zimbabwe has been intercepted at international airports abroad.
In October 2013, for the first time, Chinese journalists worked with African journalists on an undercover investigation into the Chinese connection with ivory and rhino horns market in South Africa. They visited the Bruma flea market and nearby New Chinatown in eastern Johannesburg. As reported on Wildlife Extra News, a Zimbabwean who works in a craft shop says most of the rhino horns and ivory they are selling comes from his home country. More....