Arrest of suspected hippo poacher

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the iSimangaliso Wetland Authority are extremely pleased with the arrest by members of the SAPF on 13 October 2010 of a man suspected of large scale poaching in the Muzi Pan/Mbazwane area of Northern Zululand. The arrest follows a long investigation into illegal hunting in the area and culminated in the arrest of Sipho Bhekizwe Zikhali (30) of the Manzibomvu area suspected of poaching in the Ozabeni, Muzi Pans, and Lake Sibaya areas. Zikhali appeared in the Mbazwane Magistrates Court on 14 October 2010 and the case was remanded to today, 21 October for a bail hearing.

With the ongoing drought hippos are tending to gather in the Muzi Pan as the pans they normally inhabit dry up. The Muzi Pan complex lies outside the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and these animals are therefore vulnerable to poaching. Police found the remains of five hippos, several crocodiles, skins of antelope and monkeys as well as various cable snares used in hippo, crocodile and antelope poaching. They also confiscated a .303 rifle and 20 rounds of ammunition. “The scale of this operation was very disturbing indeed,” said iSimangaliso Wetland Authority CEO Andrew Zaloumis. “We are very pleased indeed that this man has finally been brought to book and look forward to the outcome of the court case,” he said. “It is most encouraging to us all to know that with the support of our public and dedicated staff we can beat the poachers and they must not expect a soft deal from us,” he added. Ezemvelo KZN Wildife CEO Dr Bandile Mkhize echoed these sentiments and noted that in several public addresses he had repeatedly warned poachers that they plundered the wildlife resources of KZN at their peril. “We are actively pursuing many leads with regards to poaching across KZN and our public can look forward to more news in the future regarding the arrests of poachers,” he said. “This poaching operation was one of the biggest ever to be uncovered in KZN and the arrest of its main operator will definitely send a message to others that the net is closing on them,” said Dr Mkhize. The CEOs of both organisations paid tribute to the painstaking investigation involving their staff and the SAPF that lead to this arrest.

Jeff, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

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