Pained by the loss of his goat that was devoured by a marauding leopard which allegedly devoured his goat, a 78-year-old man from Dete in Hwange district last week trapped and subsequently killed- after a torturous fight- the dangerous big cat, resulting in the courts of justice fining him US$20 000 for the offense.
The man, Amos Moyo of Thuthukani Village located on the edge of Hwange National Park, was ordered to pay the hefty fine which is equivalent to the monetary value of the wild animal axed in the Vulamashava bush, to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (ZimParks).
Moyo sustained serious injuries on both arms head and face and almost lost his right eye while wrestling with the leopard which he eventually killed using an axe, said a report carried in one state-owned daily.
It is also reported that the marauding leopard which he found trapped on Thursday last week, pounced on Moyo who used his hands after his axe had fallen down to wrestle the fierce animal.
Together with his 20-year-old nephew Perfect Ndimande who helped carry the carcass home, Moyo was arraigned before Hwange magistrate Rangarirai Gakanje. The leopard was skinned with the help of a one Tayi Moyo and a Gudu Justice Moyo.
Gakanje jointly charged Moyo and Ndimande with making, possessing or using Class Two traps and another of removing any animal or any part of an animal from any land or from one place to another on the land.
The 78-year-old was initially slapped with 12 months imprisonment, wholly suspended on the condition that he does not commit the same offence in the next five years. He was, however, ordered, to financially compensate the loss of the leopard by paying US$20 000 to the country’s wildlife agency, ZimParks.
On the other hand, his nephew Ndimande was fined $1 200 or alternatively spend four months in jail in the event that he fails to pay the fine by July 31. In addition, Ndimande was sentenced to a further two months in prison which were suspended on condition he does not commit a similar offence within the next five years.
But, the convicted septuagenarian maintained that his concern with the big cat was that it had killed his goat.
“One of my goats was killed sometime in March and I saw some leopard spoors. I was frustrated when nothing was done after I reported to authorities,” Moyo told the court.
However, in justifying her ruling, Gakanje said she had taken into account Moyo’s advanced age and that he almost lost his life, which was enough punishment.
As for Ndimande, the magistrate said she put into consideration the fact that he was not involved in the setting up of the trap.
Furthermore, Tayi and Gudu were not charged because they only assisted in skinning the animal while the carcass, skin and trap were forfeited to the state.
“During the period between 18 and 21 June Moyo set a Class Two spring jaw trap in Vulamashava bush and caught the leopard. He found the trapped leopard alive and it attacked him before he killed it,” submitted state prosecutor Jamesina Makanza.
The quartet was arrested following investigations by the ZimParks rangers which led them to Moyo’s homestead where they found the leopard carcass hanging from a tree while the skin spread on the ground to dry.
Additional Reporting: Zwnews