On 12 June at approximately 2200 hours, the International Anti Poaching Foundation’s Akashinga team in Zimbabwe’s Lower Zambezi Valley conducted a raid as part of a two-month long intelligence-led anti-poaching operation.
CAPTION: Akashinga warriors with two suspected poachers they arrested, with illegal ivory. IAPF photo.
In conjunction with the Criminal Investigation Department of the Zimbabwe Police, the IAPF women rangers arrested two suspects and confiscated a quantity of ivory.
The names of the suspects are withheld pending trial, however, they are part of a known and elusive syndicate that has been terrorising elephant populations throughout the valley for many years.
One man is a former park ranger who was allegedly shot and wounded in 2009 while poaching but escaped capture.
The other male is allegedly wanted for poaching in Matusadona National Park in 2016. He also escaped a shootout with the authorities and has been in hiding near the border of Mozambique.
Both are well-known to conservation circles and the authorities and wanted by police.
It’s understood that the ivory seized was obtained through the use of cyanide, a deadly poison that has been used by poachers to cause carnage amongst elephant populations in Zimbabwe over the past decade.
The Akashinga team has now made more than 50 arrests in the region since going operational following the completion of their training in October 2017.
A number of those arrests have been linked to ivory poaching and several relate to the use or supply of cyanide to kill elephants for their ivory.
Commercial bushmeat poaching has also been an ongoing issue in the area and makes up a large percentage of the suspects apprehended by the team.