Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Are state rangers really killing Zim's elephants?

01 November 2015, 15:54News24 Correspondent

Harare - The ranger waiting to help us to find the rhinos in Zimbabwe's Kyle Recreational Park was in camouflage. 

Rifle alongside her, she stood on the open truck, scanning the bleached long grasses near the edge of Lake Mutirikwi for the tell-tale grey shadows that betray the grazing spots of some of Africa's most endangered animals. 

Rangers in this relatively small park in southern Zimbabwe are fiercely protective of the animals here, mounting a 24-hour guard.

That often means camping out next to them. 

"But the tents we bought for [the rangers] were not good quality," another ranger explained on a visit earlier in 2015. "They didn't last." 

Allegations that disgruntled low-ranking members of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) may be behind the poisonings with cyanide of 62 elephants in Hwange and Kariba are causing consternation.

One of the biggest pleasures in holidaying in Zimbabwe's national parks is meeting and talking to rangers from Zimparks. Working in often difficult conditions for about the same pay as a teacher in public service (around $500 US per month), they are extremely loyal to the game they protect. 

This week Zimparks manager Tawanda Gotosa stressed the "sacrifice and dedication to duty" of Zimbabwe's rangers, while confirming that two former contract workers were under investigation for one case of poisoning. 

‘We’re paid okay’

"We are certainly not the best neither are we the worst-paid conservation organisation," Gotosa told the Southern Eye newspaper.

"We always act swiftly to deal with malcontents," he added. 

The Friends of Hwange, an independently-run conservation support group also defended state rangers, stressing in a statement Friday that none of the staff at Sinamatella - the site of two poisoning incidents in Hwange in recent weeks - had been implicated. 

"In both cases, poachers were disturbed by parks patrols and fled," the group said, adding that the poachers were tracked "towards the boundary of the park." This would suggest that the poachers in those incidents were not rangers, since they are accommodated within Hwange. 

Sadly this is not the first mass poisoning incident in Hwange: two years ago, in 2013, a spate of devastating poisonings left around 200 (some reports say 300) elephants dead. 

There were arrests in the wake of those poisonings - and they were not of rangers. Almost all of them were of villagers living around Hwange. They were the ones who laid the cyanide on the salt-licks near the watering holes: the ones on the lowest link of what was almost certainly then, like now, a carefully-crafted chain of command stretching down from unnamed - and no doubt still free - "bigwigs", as the local press calls them. 

Hwange villagers may have been paid just 100 US per tusk they collected but that represents a significant windfall. Communities living around national parks are often low-income.


Suspicions over the possible involvement of parks employees were fuelled by the arrest in the first week of October of three parks employees - two rangers and an ecologist - at Harare International Airport, where they were apparently trying to smuggle tusks out. The official Herald newspaper reported that the tusks had been stolen from a strong room at the authority's Hwange headquarters at Main Camp. 

Zimbabwe's rangers haven't always enjoyed a good reputation, particularly during the 2000-8 crisis. That was partly to do with the controversial practice of "ration-hunting", when employees were ordered to shoot game for food for state occasions or for the work force. One British woman speaks of her horror when she visited Kyle Recreational Park in 2007 to see a parks truck loaded with freshly shot game. She and her family have never been back. 

There are occasionally whispered poaching allegations against one or more senior parks employees -- but mostly, rangers enjoy a good press.

Rory Young, who has trained state rangers in anti-poaching skills in central, southern, eastern and western Africa said in a telephone interview: "The Zim parks officers are among the best I have worked with. 

"They are resourceful and skilled and their successes are... all the more impressive considering the shocking lack of financial and other resources they have to work with," Young added.

- News24


Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...