Hwange goes after clay poachers

The Hwange Local Board (HLB) has launched a blitz on clay poachers who have reportedly caused serious environmental damage in the mining town.

Of late, the coal-mining town has been invaded by clay soil poachers, illegally extracting soil for brick moulding purposes leading to land degradation.

Clay poaching activities have persisted mainly due to the ever-increasing housing projects being carried out in Hwange urban and has resulted in massive deforestation and proliferation of open pits.

The pits are becoming a danger to both human beings and animals with their existence being more hazardous during the rainy season.

The local authority said the clay soil poachers were using sewer water from the defunct Empumalanga sewer plant that finds its way to the nearby Kalope stream.

The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) three weeks ago had to rein in and ordered the local authority to rehabilitate the degraded land no later than the end of September.

“Hwange Local Board is pinning its hopes of curbing clay poaching activities within its areas of jurisdiction on the government’s newly launched wildlife and environmental protection exercise,” said the local authority.

“The operation code-named “thunder ball” was launched on Monday and is being spearheaded by security forces. It will run up to 11 October. The operation is expected among other issues to protect wildlife, curb the transportation or selling of wild animals by unlicensed dealers as well as to curtail deforestation and land degradation in the country.”

The local authority further explained: “In Hwange District, the operation is being headed by the Criminal Investigations Department with other committee members being the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Environmental Management Agency, Forestry Commission, Department of Immigration, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, Hwange Colliery Company Limited, Hwange Rural District Council and HLB.”  

The committee, according to the HLB, has already started work and recommended the removal of clay poachers and destruction of their illegal activities before 11 October.

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