By Mukudzei Chingwere
Two armed poachers were shot dead at Chirisa Game Park in Gokwe over the weekend in a gun combat with Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) rangers.
ZimParks is now using drones to patrol its vast estate, and so far this year, 800 poachers have been detected and more than 600 arrested by follow-up patrols.
At times poachers shoot at the ZimParks staff attempting to make arrests, and there have been 15 such armed contacts this year, where five poachers were shot dead.
The rangers believe there were three poachers in the gang which attacked them in Chirisa National Park and that one escaped. After the gunfight, a .303 Lee-Enfield rifle was recovered.
ZimParks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo said they will continue their fight to protect the country’s conservation areas.
“It is unfortunate that two suspected poachers were shot dead in Chirisa Game Park,” he said. “These are protected areas, and we have always been saying protected areas are no go areas, if we see you in a protected area we are left with no option. No one is allowed in these areas, and these people will be armed which leaves us with no option.
“Investigations are being done following the incident that happened at the Chirisa Game Park.” ZimParks is using drones to detect poachers as part of improved and technology-based conservation strategies.
The new technology enables ZimParks rangers to detect poachers from afar and deploy patrols appropriately.
“We are making use of advanced technology to detect poachers. We are detecting more because we have employed technology and most of the incursions can now be seen just by the click of a button.
“With the use of drones we are now better equipped to detect poachers, and we are also able to deploy appropriately if there are any incursions,” said Mr Farawo. The Herald