By Cletus Mushanawani
POLICE at Mutare Central Police Station had a rare spectacle last week after a pangolin they had recovered when it was about to be sold gave birth at the station. Detectives and their uniformed counterparts had to abandon their duties to witness the rare spectacle which happened last Thursday.
Six people were arrested in connection with the possession of the protected animals.
While the giving birth of the pangolin was the talk of Mutare Central Police Station, three of the suspects were in for a rude awakening the following day when senior Mutare magistrate Mrs Sekai Chiundura heavily descended on them with a deterrent sentence.
The three, a Zambian national, Stephen Banda (31), Average Geza (43) of House Number 136, Medium Density, Chipinge and Charles Chikide of Kusena Village, Marange, were sentenced to nine years in jail each.
They were convicted on their own plea of guilty for contravening Section 45 (b) of the Parks and Wildlife Act, Chapter 20:14 (keep or having in possession or sell or otherwise dispose any live specially protected animal or the meat or trophy of such animals).
Three other accused persons, Ivan Ndagurwa (36) of House Number 343, Muchena, Sakubva, Wonderful Museka (27) of G143, Vengere, Rusape and Bernard Museka (29) of House Number 343, Muchena, Sakubva denied the charges and were remanded in custody to October 23 for trial.
Manicaland provincial police spokesperson Inspector Enock Chishiri said detectives from CID Mutare received a tip-off last Thursday morning that there were six people who had a live pangolin which they intended to sell.
“The detectives proceeded to Dawson Drive in Yeovil medium-density suburb where the six had parked a blue Mitsubishi vehicle, Registration Number AAR 4668. The vehicle was being driven by Ndagurwa.
The detectives arrested the six and later searched their vehicle. The pangolin was recovered hidden in the boot of the car.
“The six were taken to Minerals and Border Control Unit for further investigations. As they were being interrogated, the pangolin gave birth,” said Insp Chishiri.
He said investigations revealed that the pangolin was brought from Mozambique by Banda, Geza and Chikide.
They used the Mount Selinda entry point in Chipinge to get into Zimbabwe.
The pangolin and its young one were handed over to the Department of Parks and National Wildlife for safekeeping.
The illegal trade in pangolins and the destruction of their habitat has made these remarkable scaled animals one of the most endangered mammal groups in the world.
Although African pangolins face their own set of threats, this section addresses the conservation programmes for Asian species.
All eight species of Asian and African pangolins are listed under Appendix II of CITES, which means trade is regulated and monitored under CITES. Permits are required from exporting countries for any trade activity. Manica Post