Two incidents in March highlight the value of trained, motivated staff. In the first incident, Lovison, Enock and and Majele, three dedicated and brave rangers from Robins Camp, who heard shots fired near to where they were on patrol on 5th March. They followed up, found an elephant bull with the ivory removed and then tracked the poaching gang, catching up with them in thick bush, and initiating a contact at close range. They wounded and captured one poacher, and saw blood spoor from others before the gang crossed the nearby border into Botswana. Information from the wounded poacher indicated a group of twelve had crossed over from Zambia into the Zambezi NP, and had walked to Robins (6 days). The first and only elephant they had shot on this trip and the bull’s tusks weighed 88lbs and 62 lbs. News has since filtered back that 8 of the gang have made it back to Zambia – according to sources, they buried one fellow in the Park, another died and the “boss” with the heavy rifle ran off badly injured and has not been seen since!
On the 21st March, three Forestry rangers in the Panda Masuie Forest (Zambezi National Park) picked up the tracks of a gang of Zambian elephant poachers. At the park boundary they were joined by three scouts from the Zambezi Camp, led by Senior Ranger Simon Muchibaya. The following day, the team caught up with the Zambians and opened up on an armed poacher they spotted. In the ensuing melee, the main poacher was killed and his weapon recovered, while a porter was wounded and captured, and the rest of the gang fled, leaving everything behind. The deceased poacher was a gang kingpin with a long history of poaching elephant. A total of 37 tusks were recovered with a total weight of 692kg (average of 18,7kg or 41lbs per tusk). The Zambians are only targeting the bulls with larger tusks. A great effort by Senior Ranger S. Muchibaya, Rangers B. Mpunzi, and E. Sibanda, and Forestry Rangers F. Mutsvangwa, F. Chiremba, and M. Mutshongwe.
Author:Trevor Lane (the original article was adapted by Gerhard Damm for African Indaba)