Saturday, 21 July 2018

FOUR JAILED FOR HUNTING RHINOs

In a sentence that could serve as a deterrent to would-be offenders, four villagers have been slapped with a total of 36 years — each serving nine years’ imprisonment — after they were found guilty of hunting a specially protected animal.

Masvingo magistrate Peter Madiba handed down the sentence after a full trial that will now see Godfrey Makechemu, 47, Ignatius Maiga, 30, Farai Chauno, 27, and Celestino Shate, 35, spending lengthy jail terms.

Madiba ruled that the quartet, not being holders of a valid permit had intentionally and unlawfully hunted rhinoceroses, which are specially protected animals by following their spoor.

They were also found guilty of a second count of possession of a firearm without a firearm certificate as well as a third count of contravening the Firearms Act by fitting onto a firearm a silencing device without having obtained written permission of the comptroller.

The complainant was represented by legal counsel Prisca Daka of Speak out for Animals (Sofa) — an animal law organisation based in Zimbabwe with lawyers dedicated to protecting animals through the legal system.

The organisation was founded by Ever Vimbai Chinoda, whilst pursing her LLM in Animal Law at Lewis and Clark Law School in April, 2017.

During trial it was proven that on the December 17, 2017, at Save Valley Conservancy, Bikita, Masvingo, the four accused persons hatched a plan to hunt and kill some rhinoceros.

The court heard that on the same date, the game rangers who were on patrol discovered rhino spoor alongside human footprints as well as traces of blood alongside the rhino spoor and a tennis shoe was also discovered.

The game rangers tracked the spoor and found a 404 spent cartridge.
They intensified the tracking of the accused persons before laying an ambush along Chiremwaremwa Road outside the conservancy which was the possible escape route.
While waiting, a silver Toyota Fortuner driven by Maiga entered the ambushed area from the northern side of the conservancy.

The vehicle was stopped by the rangers who went on to search the vehicle from where they discovered an axe, 404 rifle fitted with a telescopic device and a silencer.

Eleven rounds of ammunition where also discovered from the right side of Maiga’s pocket.
The tennis shoes which accused five was wearing were also received and produced in court as part of the exhibits.

They were later convicted of infringing Section 45(1)(a) of the Parks and Wild Life Act [Chapter 20:14] which provides that No person shall — hunt any specially protected animal. Daily News

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