$140 million ivory intercepted at KK International Airport

Elephants on Zambezi

An inspector in the Zambia Police Service and eight other suspected poachers have been arrested for illegally being in possession of Government trophy amounting to more than US$100 million.

ZAWA Board chairperson Guy Robinson said 27kg of elephant ivory tusks worth $140 million suspected to have been poached were intercepted at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport after an attempt to illegally export them to China.

Mr Robinson said the ZAWA anti-poaching patrol under the Western command arrested the suspects and confiscated two AK47 rifles with 32 rounds of ammunition, six pieces of elephant ivory tusks, three elephant tails, 915kg of dried game meat, two bicycles and 29kg of dried warthog meat.

Speaking during the official signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the African Wildlife Foundation conservation project in Lusaka yesterday, Mr Robinson said stiff measures should be implemented to conserve wildlife.

He said senior wildlife police officers in collaboration with the Zambia Police Service and Zambia Army would work together to determine the sources of crime and bring the alleged perpetrators to book.

“With a great sense of frustration, the increasing involvement of public officers allegedly found committing wildlife and related economic crimes whilst using Government transport to conceal their activities is a source of concern.

“Our patrols are on the increase and our staff of wildlife police officers will be empowered to inspect vehicles suspected to be conveying Government trophy contraband,” Mr Robinson said.

He said from the period January to April 2013, ZAWA conducted 2,675 law enforcement operations which resulted in 56,047 patrol man-days.

He urged men and women in the uniformed forces to work with ZAWA to eradicate the abuse of ammunition sourced from official stocks.

Meanwhile, police in Solwezi have impounded five trucks carrying illegal copper concentrates and eight people, among them three Somalis, for being in possession of the commodity.

Among the five trucks impounded, three were being driven by the three Somali nationals from Ndola.

North-Western police commissioner Eugene Simbote confirmed this in an interview yesterday and said the three Volvo trucks, registration numbers ACG 8610-ACG 337T belonging to JAMA Transports, driven by Saidi Mohammed, 56, and ACP 332-ACM 2541T belonging to Farm Enterprise, driven by Abdulai Mohammed, 24, were intercepted at the weekend at the weighbridge on the Solwezi-Kipushi border road.

He said the other Volvo truck, registration number ACP 3903-AAH 1536T driven by Abibi Assan, aged 49, was carrying seven bags of copper ore concealed in scrap metal.

The three transporters were operating without legal documents.

He said Alice Mukutubeka, 47, of Chilenje Township who had hired the trucks was also arrested and she would appear in court soon.

“Another Volvo truck registration ATM 9412 driven by Frank Mubano, 46, also of Ndola was carrying copper ore and was impounded at the weighbridge in Solwezi for not having legal documents,” he said.

Mr Simbote said a Hino light truck, registration number ALH 4161, also carrying copper ore from Kasempa destined for the Copperbelt, was impounded.

Owen Ichena, 31, Mercy Maseka, 25, Monica Maseka, 18, and Kayunka Kavangu, 23, were arrested for being in possession of the commodity.

The commisioner said the four accused persons when interviewed said the copper ore belonged to Kalenga Mine in Solwezi when in fact not.