Police in Zambia have nabbed two Binga villagers for possessing a live pangolin they hunted in Zimbabwe with the intention of selling it in the neighboring country where it is highly valued in the parallel market.

The endangered species which is valued at $5000, attracts a mandatory nine-year jail sentence and is the world’s most trafficked animal.

The Zimbabwean pair of 53-year old Ephraim Mungande and Simple Mungande (32) both from Manjolo Village under Chief Sikalenge, are accused of having illegally hunted the pangolin in Chizarira National Park on the boundary of Binga and Gokwe.

After catching the treasured animal, the duo illegally crossed the Zambezi River to Zambia intending to sell the pangolin in that country.

However, the relationship of the criminal pair, who share both the same locality and surname, could not be ascertained.

According to information accessed from police in Binga, when the two Mungandes were arrested in the Sinazongwe area under Chief Mweemba last Saturday, they were in the company of a Zambian national, Menson Sialubombwe (47), who hails from that area.

When they appeared before the magistrates’ court in Sinazongwe the trio was charged with a count of entry by evasion and another of possession of a live pangolin.

The co-accused Zimbabweans pleaded not guilty to both charges and were remanded in custody to September 4.

On the other hand, their Zambian accomplice Sialubombwe, who is said to have pleaded guilty to the two charges, was reportedly sentenced to a mandatory five years in prison.

Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) national spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said he was yet to be furnished with details of the matter.

Documentation from the ZRP, however, authenticated the said arrests.

“On Sunday, police got a tip-off that Ephrain Mugande (35) of Manjolo Village under Chief Sikalenge and Simple Mugande (32) and a Zambian Menson Sialubombwe (47) of Sinazongwe area under Chief Mweemba had been arrested by Zambia police,” a police document reads.

It is understood that the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) is making efforts to recover the pangolin and return it to Chizarira National Park, where it was taken from.

Tinashe Farawo, the ZimParks publicist, said he would check on the progress of the live pangolin’s repatriation.

state media
Additional Reporting: Zwnews