EIGHT pangolin poachers are serving mandatory nine-year jail terms as the animal conservationists tighten their screws on the hunting of endangered species, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) has said.
The eight are part of 12 poachers arrested so far this year.
Illegal possession of a pangolin attracts a $5 000 fine and/or a nine-year mandatory prison term.
In Zimbabwe, a pangolin was placed on the specially protected list in 1975.
Until recently, pangolins were often handed over to President Robert Mugabe as gifts.
They are vulnerable to poachers, mainly because their scales are considered to have magical or healing powers.
On Wednesday, Zimparks said the bulk of the culprits were arrested in Harare, Nyamapanda, Guruve and Kwekwe.
“There is still one outstanding case involving three poachers all of whom have been denied bail since their arrest in January 2015 and are currently awaiting trial. By comparison, for the same time frame in 2014 (January-March), there were two pangolin cases involving four poachers who were sentenced to nine years in jail.
“All authorities, and these include the judiciary, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the traditional leadership, who are involved with the justice system here in Zimbabwe have come together, recognising how severe the threat of illegal wildlife poaching is together with the ever-increasing demand on our pangolin.”