Akashinga Among Key Investigators in Recent Elephant Poaching in Zimbabwe’s Lower Zambezi Valley
Akashinga, one of the world’s leading nature conservation organisations, working with Zimbabwean agencies amidst poaching of baby elephant in rural Zimbabwe.
Harare, Zimbabwe–January 17, 2024 – The Akashinga team, in conjunction with the Zimbabwean authorities, recently arrested three of the suspects who are undergoing further questioning. We continue to collaborate with local authorities on intensive investigations into the apprehension of a fourth suspect linked to the poaching of a baby elephant in the Lower Zambezi Valley in Zimbabwe. The graphic incident, which was filmed at the time, shows the modus operandi of the syndicate which utilises packs of hunting dogs, spears, and axes across the region to hunt elephants.
Although this elephant was killed for the commercial sale of meat, this notorious syndicate has been monitored since early 2023 for their alleged involvement in ivory poaching and trafficking. One of the accused, now in custody and cooperating with police, has a previous conviction for poaching and kidnapping.
Akashinga’s commitment to wildlife, landscapes, and rangers extends beyond this moment of swift action. By opening doors to education, creating women’s leadership opportunities, and establishing jobs in rural Africa, we are not only protecting iconic wildlife, we are also driving sustainable, social change. Our mission, thusly, is ultimately focused on crafting a lasting legacy through revolutionising the ways animals are protected, communities are supported, and wilderness landscapes are restored and safeguarded for generations to come.
Since its inception in 2017, the Akashinga team has not lost a single elephant to poaching in any of the reserves under our mandate. Despite media reports, the elephant was killed outside of Phundundu Wildlife Area.
In protecting more than 1.3 million acres across Zimbabwe, Akashinga has played a key role in helping to drive a 90% downturn in elephant poaching across one of Africa’s most iconic ecosystems, Zimbabwe’s mid-Lower Zambezi Valley, which had previously lost 8000 elephants (40% of the entire elephant population in the region) in the 16 years prior to Akashinga’s involvement.
Since 2017, the Akashinga team in Zimbabwe has made a total of 1470 arrests related to wildlife crimes. These arrests took place in 792 separate joint operations with law enforcement, with a total of 620 ivory tusks recovered. In Zimbabwe, all arrests related to ivory poaching or trafficking carry a mandatory sentence of nine years.
Akashinga Founder & CEO Damien Mander states, “It is heartbreaking to see such disrespect for nature and violence against animals. Our ranger teams work tirelessly in the field, patrolling through harsh terrain for up to seven days at a time before returning to base. These animals are like our children. The reality is that although Akashinga works closely with the local communities to protect the biodiversity of these landscapes, there will always be a minority willing to exploit the vulnerable. Akashinga must be right 100% of the time, whereas poachers have to be right only once. This can be challenging when we are tasked with patrolling wilderness areas the size of small countries. We trust the work we do and our mission, and we know the situation would be much worse without the dedicated work of rangers across the world.”
This case is still under investigation, and the accused have appeared in Kariba Magistrates Court in northern Zimbabwe and now await sentencing.
Akashinga is an innovative conservation organisation that creates resilient ecosystems where nature and local communities thrive together. Guided by a unique science-based approach proven to deliver conservation impact at scale, Akashinga combines long-term leasing of large tracts of ecologically valuable land, scaling the first-of-its kind model of female landscape management, training local wildlife crime prevention and response, and nurturing a nature-friendly economy through structural support of local communities. For more information, visit www.akashinga.org / www.iapf.org.