Zimbabwe arrests 10 for rhino, elephant poaching

by Mail and Guardian online

Authorities in Zimbabwe have arrested 10 people for poaching and unlawful possession of elephant tusks and rhino horns that they were suspected of selling to buyers from China, police said Friday.

The suspects, including four former soldiers and four farmers, were arrested in two separate operations and were apparently targetting Chinese buyers.

"I can confirm the arrests but I can't comment further," said national police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka.

In the first operation, six suspects were found with two fresh rhino horns weighing 4.6kg when they fell into a police trap at a local shopping mall, according to the state-owned Herald newspaper.

The horns were valued at $120 000 by the national wildlife authorities.

The other group was arrested while trying to sell four elephant tusks in the capital, the paper said, adding that both groups had approached a Chinese businessman trying to sell him the horns.

Poaching for rhino horns and elephant tusks is a major problem in Zimbabwe, where wildlife management deteriorated during the country's decade-long economic crisis.

Conservation groups have built protective pens for the targetted black rhino, with only a few hundred remaining in the country.

Parks authorities say poachers have killed at least 10 rhinos since the beginning of the year. -- AFP

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