Endangered pangolin faces new threat in Chipinge

Ellen Mlambo

CHIPINGE–The pangolin which is an endangered species is facing renewed threats in Chipinge and the Devuli area as the belief that its scales bring luck gains traction among the people.

Poachers have found a new buzz word to package their marketing of the pangolin scales; they bring luck.
Police is extremely worried by this new strategy and this is not without basis.

Chipinge District Criminal Investigation Department Public Relations Officer, Detective Assistant Inspector Vincent Chikuvadze told Chipinge Times of an alarming increase in the number of cases involving pangolins reported to the Police.

He said there were zero cases involving pangolins reported to the Police in 2019 and this year the cases have shot up to four. In all the four cases, the arrested suspects were telling buyers that the pangolin scales bring luck.
The arrested suspects were found with scales worth between US$5 000 and US$20 000 and there is fear that poaching of the pangolin can rapidly increase because of the lucrative nature of the business. One kilogram of pangolin scales fetches about US$10 000.

Chikuvadze said the cases were reported from three areas which are Birchenough, Chisumbanje and Devuli and all fall under Save Valley Conservancy. The four people who were arrested with the scales were at Birchenough, Devuli and Chisumbanje.

The accused persons were each sentenced to nine years in jail, said Chikuvadze.
Police has established that the source of the scales is Save Valley Conservancy.

In African societies, pangolins are a delicacy and their meat is for kings and queens. Their scales and body parts are used in traditional medicinal practices and this could easily see the demand for pangolin products shooting and accelerating the extinction of the animal.

In Asia, they are highly prized for the traditional Chinese Medicines practices and eaten as a delicacy and this attributes to the reasons why they become the most trafficked mammal.
Police is desperate to start a campaign to counter the luck and charm theory peddled by pangolin poachers in order to save the animal. Chikuvadze said Police is urging people not to be misled by the notion that the pangolin scales bring luck.

“People must not be misled by these illegal pangolin scales dealers. It is only a myth that the scales bring luck or fortune; this is just a gimmick to hoodwink buyers. We urge the public to desist from dealing in pangolin scales because the sentence is a mandatory nine-year custodial sentence,” said Chikuvadze.

Director Fauna and Flora Zimbabwe (FAFLOZIM) Fidelis Nyamukondiwa said a pangolin is a solitary animal and it’s rare to find one and for that reason worldwide, pangolin numbers are unknown. He added that they are mainly found in Asia and a few African countries.

“Through CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild Fauna and Flora), international trade in Pangolin was banned in 2017.The pangolin is the most trafficked animal in the world and the bulk is smuggled to China where it is “believed” that the scales cure breast cancer and skin disorders” he said.
CITES is an international convention to which Zimbabwe is a signatory.

Nyamukondiwa said in Zimbabwe the pangolin was added to the list of specially protected animals in March 2020 through Statutory Instrument 72 of 2020. The total number of specially protected animals is now at 34.
He added that Zimbabwe is one of the few countries with deterrent legislation as far as pangolin preservation is concerned.

Nyamukondiwa added that what is needed to counter the renewed threat to Pangolin is enforcement and implementation of the law.

The spokesperson of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Tinashe Farawo said pangolin is one of the most trafficked animals and this has resulted in the animal being specially protected. https://masvingomirror.com

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