12 tusks recovered from poachers

Bulawayo, Zimbabwe — Ivory poached in Zimbabwe finds a ready market in Botswana, according to the police.

As Zimbabwe's relations with Botswana have suddenly turned sour, a poaching syndicate has been unearthed that implicates some Botswana nationals as customers for Zimbabwean ivory.

Last week [this story was published 02/17/10] police in Matabeleland North arrested three suspected ivory poachers, who claimed that they supplied clients in Botswana, said the provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Trust Ndlovu.

The suspects, Tawu Tinos (69), Tennyson Chombo (20), both from Binga, and Alex Chirivengwa (33) from Old Highfield in Harare, were arrested following a tip-off that they had shot and killed three male elephants at Nakabuli in Binga.

"Wildlife rangers and police went to their homestead in Gokwe. When the police got there the suspects ran away in a Mazda 323 and police gave chase," said Ndlovu.

After a high speed chase the suspects' vehicle developed a mechanical problem and was grounded. Five of the suspects bolted, leaving the driver of the car who was apprehended before he could escape.

"Police officers searched the car and recovered 12 elephant tusks weighing 63,94 kilograms, two 303 rifles and empty magazines," said the police.

Five suspects are still at large including the owner of the homestead where the rifles were found.

This news story by Paul Ndlovu originally appeared in The Zimbabwean.

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