Zim elephants under threat from Zambian poachers

Staff Reporter

Zimbabwe’s elephant population could drop significantly due to Zambian elephant meat poachers, Harare Post can reveal.

A source within Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) has disclosed that the country’s elephant population could drop drastically owing to a threat posed by Zambian elephant meat poachers.

“ZPWMA is alert to a new threat of Zambian elephant poachers. These poachers are only interested in elephant meat whilst choosing to ignore the tusks.

“Of concern to us is that two of the three elephants killed since the beginning of 2022 are suspected to have been motivated by meat poaching requirements because all the meat was gone whilst all of the bones and both tusks were left behind,” said the source.

According to the source, a new market for elephant biltong (dried elephant meat) has emerged in Zambia where it is sold on the open markets.

Lower profits from tusks are suspected to be the drivers of this major shift to elephant meat. Poachers are believed to pocket approximately US$625 to US$1 500 per single elephant whilst meat poachers for the same elephant would get approximately US$3 000 even after selling the meat at US$1 per kilogram.

“Poachers caught by ZPWMA have confessed that they prefer meat poaching since they get more money amounting to US$3 000 for a fully grown elephant as compared to US$650 to US$1 500 on tusks for the same elephant size,” he said.

ZPWMA has since created units of rangers called The Zambezi River Specialized Anti-Poaching Unit (ZARSAPU). These units have proven to be very effective so far as they have managed to reduce poaching activities between Kanyemba and Kariba.

This poaching threat comes at a time Zimbabwe and other African nations are fighting against Conventional International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) for liberal trading rights on domestic trade, sovereignty of states and their rights to sustainable use of wildlife as enshrined in their policies. If successful, Zimbabwe could also use this opportunity to regulate the number of elephants to manageable numbers whilst benefiting from its wildlife.