Zimbabwean police arrest a wildlife ranger with ivory

The wildlife ranger was arrested after being found in possession of two unmarked pieces of ivory weighing 80 kg.

John Cassim

Harare, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) officials have revealed that a senior wildlife ranger, Noel Zuze, has been arrested for possession of 80 kg of ivory.

Zuze was nabbed over the weekend in Chinhoyi, a town 115km west of the capital Harare.

“Police in Zimbabwe arrested a ZimParks ranger in Chinhoyi after being found in possession of two unmarked pieces of ivory weighing 80 kg. The suspect is expected to appear in court soon.

There are no sacred cows. If a person commits a crime, the long arm of the law will catch up,” the spokesperson of ZimParks, Tinashe Farawo, told ConserveZim.

The arrest comes after ZimParks Director Fulton Mangwanya recently declared war on ZimParks officials who were allegedly involved in illicit ivory or mining deals.

In March this year, 28 illegal miners were arrested inside the Chewore area near Hurungwe, and these implicated senior ZimParks officials.

Investigations in Nyamakate revealed that there were syndicates that involved ZimParks rangers that were being bribed to allow illegal mining to take place inside the wildlife sanctuaries.

The illegal miners said there are about three old mine pits in the area that they were targeting.

They revealed that each illegal miner would pay between US$20 and US$50 to the rangers on duty to gain access to the pits.

Several places under the management of ZimParks, like Shamrock, the Dande side, and the Chief Chisungo side, are facing similar mining challenges.

Mahwau and Mayamba areas are under Chief Chundu and are being used as access to the mines in the Chewore area.

Last year, Simibio Kakomo (38), employed as a ranger by Zimparks, was arrested together with two more people for possession of eight unmarked elephant tusks weighing 28.35 km.

Reports of the involvement of ZimParks rangers in wildlife poaching have been increasing, despite reduced poaching cases across the country.

Paltry salaries have been blamed for the spike in the number of rangers getting involved in ivory poaching and smuggling in the country.

Top government officials have in the past also been linked to ivory trading.

In 2018, the then First Lady Grace Mugabe was investigated by Al Jazeera for her alleged involvement in an ivory smuggling ring.

The probe was opened after a three-month undercover mission by Australian wildlife photographer Adrian Steirn.

Steirn alleges Grace would then be able to pack ivory that she would send out through the airport, as anything that was the property of the first lady was not searched or scanned.

Steirn gathered documents, undercover videos, and testimonies, which he showed to Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit.

“They exposed the syndicate and the former first lady’s involvement in ivory smuggling,” he said.

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