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Two men arrested for selling leopard skin, pangolin scales

Two men from Inyathi in Matabeleland North have been arrested after they were found selling a leopard’s skin and 203 pangolin scales.

They were selling the pangolin scales for US$6 000 and the leopard skin for US$1 000.

The accused are Julious Ncube (48) from Chief Sikobokobo in Nkayi, a security guard at Famona Clinic, who is also a member of the neighbourhood watch committee and Christopher Dube (53) from Gandangula village under Chief Mabhikwa, Lupane and is a truck driver at Movern EB2 mine.

Reliable sources told CITE that on June 22, 2022, the two suspects were arrested by a Joint team comprising of Bulawayo Parks Investigation and Police Minerals Flora Fauna Unit at Inyathi around 1200hours in the Famona area in Inyathi.

“The pangolin was picked alive at the field by Ncube, who is accused number one and killed the pangolin at his homestead,” sources said.

The accused persons were arrested and remanded at Inyathi police station until July, 8, 2022.

According to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks), the illegal possession or dealing in a pangolin attracts a mandatory sentence of nine years.

Pangolins are protected under the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Act, and the country has one of the strictest laws against pangolin poaching in Africa.

Leopards are also at risk of extinction across Africa and Asia but their skins are often sold as finished skins for home decoration or used in the creation of luxury carpets.

The illegal trade of leopard skins is driven by a demand on the international black market, as in sub-Saharan Africa, leopards have reportedly experienced a population decline of more than 30 percent in the past 25 years.

The likely sentence for one found illegally possessing a leopard skin, depending on the charge, is not less than six months imprisonment.

In another similar but unrelated case, a man from Inyathi was also arrested in Bulawayo for the illegal possession of a full pangolin skin.

Amen Ndebele (38) from Queen’s Mine Inyathi. Queens Compound was arrested in Bulawayo urban on June 28, 2022, after a tip-off.

He was arrested by a Joint team comprising Bulawayo Investigation and Minerals Flora and Fauna Unit Bulawayo.

Ndebele was charged for contravening Section 45 (1)(b) as read with Section 128 (b)of the Parks and Wildlife Act Chapter 20:14 of 2001, which is found in possession of a pangolin skin without a permit.

Ndebele is currently held by Police Bulawayo Minerals and Flora Unit.

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