Harare – Zimbabwe’s War veterans settled near the Humani Estates in Chiredzi District are using poisonous elements for poaching rhino horns from a nearby game reserve in a move to sustain them after failing to come up with meaningful yields since they invaded the farms in early 2000.
Humani Estate community spokesperson Nelson Maponga said the war veterans were using poisoned cabbages to trap rhinoceroses that are kept in the neighbouring game reserve and sell the horns to South African dealers who have flooded the area with firearms.
“We have had a big problem with these newly resettled farmers as they have become a highly environmental hazard to the area; they are presenting this area with multiple problems.
“Most of them are working as poaching agents for South African based rhino horn dealers, the poachers are placing poisoned cabbages on animal drinking points so that when the animals come for water they will also eat them. They will then track them until they die, then take off the horns.
“The biggest problem is that our cattle also drink from the same sources and are also eating the same cabbages and dying. They are even poisoning some small dams around this area with the hope that rhinos will drink from them which have caused serious environmental problems in this area,” said a community spokesperson Nelson Maponga.
Maponga also said the problem was not only of the dying of cattle but
a lot of other domestic and wild animals like goats, and other scavenger animals as they feed on animals that might have died as a result of poisoning.
The war veterans have also been blamed for deforestation as they allegedly indiscriminately cut down trees to sell firewood in the neighbouring urban centers leaving wild animals without cover.
“They indiscriminately cut down trees to sell firewood to people who come from towns like Chiredzi and Nyika growth point leaving the animals without cover,” he added.
Efforts to get an official comment from National Parks and Wild life Authority were fruitless as the Public Relationsmanager Caroline Washayamoyo’s mobile phone was not reachable.