By Judith Sibanda
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) has launched a manhunt for three suspected poachers who were intercepted by Hwange national parks rangers while taking a bath in a river, resulting in exchange of gunfire.
A fourth member of the gang was gunned down while the trio escaped when they were intercepted near Dete town.
Zimparks spokesperson Tinashe Farawo confirmed the incident which happened on Wednesday.
“Our rangers were on patrol at the Main Camp and they spotted three poachers bathing and before they could close in, they (Rangers) were spotted by a fourth member of the gang who was on guard.
“In no time, he loaded his pistol and started to fire towards our rangers, and that is how he was shot during the gunfire exchange and unfortunately that is when the trio managed to escape naked.
“We are in possession of their clothes and our investigations are still on-going because we want to bring them to book,” he said.
Meanwhile, a Hwange magistrate on Wednesday sentenced a serial poacher, Never Ndlovu to 27 years and 8 months in prison after he was found guilty of possessing pangolin scales, a python skin, and pieces of ivory, a lion skin and a baboon skull.
On Thursday, a Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Maxwell Takuva granted bail to seven Chinese nationals who are facing charges of money laundering and illegally possessing 20.88 Kilograms of rhino horn pieces with a combined value of close to $1 million.
The seven, Zeng Dengui (35), Peicon Jang (35), Liu Cheng (23), Yu Xian (25), Yong Zhu (25), Chen Zhiangfu (30) and Quil Jinchang (29) were granted RTGS$5 000 bail each.
Some of their bail conditions include reporting three times a day at Victoria Falls police station and must surrender their travel documents to the clerk of court.
More so, Justice Takuva ordered the Chinese not to travel beyond a radius of ten kilometres outside Victoria Falls without notifying the authorities.
The gang was arrested last year on December 23, following a tip-off that they were in possession of rhino horns at their rented house in Aerodrome, Victoria Falls.