Two residents of Mozambique have been given prison sentences of thirteen years after they were convicted of illegal rhino poaching in Zimbabwe. They also entered Chipangali Game Park without legal permission. They used an AK-47 automatic assault rifle containing over fifty bullets. The two poachers were caught by police and game rangers who were tracking rhinos at the time they encountered the criminals.
Chipangali is located near Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and was founded by Vivian and Paddy Wilson. It is a wildlife preserve, rehabilitation center and educational facility for the public to learn about local animals. It was supported in part by Diana Princess of Wales, when she was alive, and has received support from her trust. In the videos below you can see how a black rhino was being taken care of there, and one kept in a fenced area. These might have been the rhinos the poachers were stalking, or their relatives.
Zimbabwe resident Raoul du Toit was just given a prestigious environmental award for his years of black rhino conservation efforts in his homeland.
The false notion that rhino horn contains medicinal chemicals has driven demand for it beyond reason, so, tragically, rhino poaching continues and is even increasing in some parts of Africa. In the 1980s there may have been about 1,500 rhinos in the Zimbabwe area, but now they are down to just 440, and those are being illegally killed each year for their horns. Combine that trend with the fact that some local people generally don’t care about the rhinos, and you have a recipe for a potential extinction. The magistrate who gave the thirteen-year sentences did so in part as a statement to poachers and potential poachers that they will face significant prison time. Some would argue thirteen years is not enough, however.
Image Credit: Ikiwaner