BY VANESSA GONYE/ Nokuthaba Dlamini

Six suspected poachers were arrested in Harare on Thursday after they were found in possession of two rhino horns.

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) spokesperson Tinashe Farawo said Lee Dube (37), Yemurai Ndou (26), Adam Komela (33), Sibindani Silence (age unknown) David Kasere (24) and the other one only identified as Hardlife (23), were also found in possession of two rifles.

“We arrested seven people on Thursday for poaching a rhino and we recovered two riffles and two pieces of rhino horns,” he said.

They are expected to appear in court soon.

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Farawo said the arrest came as a result of good stakeholder relations and the public’s commitment to help reduce cases of poaching.

“We are saying ‘no’ to poaching and we are on the ground. It is also a result of good working relationships with stakeholders and communities; the judiciary is doing a great job, most of these cases are thoroughly dealt with,” he said.

Meanwhile, ZimParks has received more than 50 cases of livestock being eaten by hyenas in Makonde district, Mashonaland West, amid resistance by villagers to move from national parks boundaries.

Felix Chimeramombe, who is the Mid Zambezi cluster manager said ZimParks has since deployed rangers in communal settlements to trap the wild animals.

“They are currently coming to raid livestock and recently we received several reports whereby the villagers are claiming that hyenas have pounced on more than 50 goats in that area,” he said.

“Right now we have got our rangers on the ground tracking them and indeed they have confirmed that this problem is very prevalent and they are trying by all means to track and destroy them.

“On human beings, for now we haven’t heard of any case except for one case whereby they killed two young children who were aged between 8 and 10 years in the Mbire district. The children went missing after going out of their homes following their parents who had gone away and they were pounced on. Villagers only managed to recover their clothes, but normally they target sheep, goats and cattle.”

Chimhandara said the resistance by villagers to move from protected areas was the main cause for increased human-wildlife conflicts.

“Lions too move out of the parks to prey because most people have moved from their communal area and settled close to parks boundaries and there is very thin line between protected areas and villagers. We used to have buffer zones, but they have ignored the gap and settled themselves in those restricted areas so cases of such conflicts will always prevail,” he said.