A Zambian magistrate has sentenced two villagers from Binga, Zimbabwe, to a mandatory five years in prison each, after they tried to sell a live pangolin in the neighboring Sadc country.
The pair of Ephrain Mugande (35) and Simple Mugande (32) both of Manjolo Village under Chief Sikalenge in Binga are said to have illegally hunted the pangolin in Chizarira National Park on the boundary of Binga and Gokwe before crossing the Zambezi River with it to Sinazongwe town in Zambia with the intention to sell it.
This, they did, in the company of a Zambian national Menson Sialubombwe (47) of Sinazongwe area under Chief Mweemba.
Their Zambian counterpart was last month sentenced to a mandatory five-year prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to the offence.
On the other hand, the Binga duo, whose relationship could not be ascertained despite similarity of surnames, had all along pleaded not guilty.
The two were recently convicted by a magistrate after full trial and sentenced to five years each in jail.
Fetching $5 000 and highly valued in Zambia than it is back home, possesion of a live pangolin attracts a mandatory nine year jail sentence in Zimbabwe.
The endangered animal is considered as one of the most trafficked species in the world.
According to court documents from the neighbouring country, Ephraim and Simple were arrested on August 22 after a tip-off.
“On 22 August police got a tip-off that Ephraim Mugande and Simple Mugande of Manjolo Village under Chief Sikalenge from the same area were in the company of Zambian Menson Sialubombwe of Sinazongwe area under Chief Mweemba selling a live pangolin. The trio were arrested by Zambia police,” read court documents.
The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) recovered the pangolin with the help of their counterparts in Zambia and returned it back to Chizarira National Park.
state media additional reporting: Zwnews