Speaking at the Rhino’s Day commemorations, Nhema said that last year alone the country lost 66 rhinos.
“Halting this poaching is not an easy task, given that these criminals use high technology gear, including night vision equipment, veterinary tranquilisers, silencers and helicopters. If it is not stopped Zimbabwe and its neighbours’ rhino population will soon slide into critical levels,” said Nhema.
It is estimated that the country has 700 rhinos and the numbers are dwindling due to the long held belief that the rhino horn is used for medicinal purposes. Nhema also said that impoverished rural communities were also to be held responsible.
“The communities have been refusing to give information because they are often part of the syndicate,” said Nhema.
Conservationists in the country have blamed the influx of Chinese nationals for the upsurge in poaching where in some areas elephants are being poisoned by what Nhema described as “ruthless and heavily-armed international criminal gangs and
syndicates running the illegal rhino horn trade”.
162 people, including foreign nationals, were last year arrested for poaching, but Nhema would not disclose the nationalities.
“I do not want to give you the nationalities, but we have them. We do not want to reveal the names before the people are convicted. Apart from the influx of Asians in the country, the land reform programme has also seen an increase in poaching activities after the removal of security wire across the conservancies. Areas such as the Zambezi Valley, Gonarazhou National Parks are some of the areas were people have been given land for resettlement,” he said.Post published in: Environment