Undercover sting foils illicit pangolin sale, 3 suspects arrested


In a major crackdown on the illegal wildlife trade, three individuals have been arraigned before the Beitbridge Magistrates’ Court for their alleged involvement in the possession and attempted sale of a pangolin.

The accused, Dimbwani Muleya (37), Julia Ndlovu (23), and Morris Mhlanga (41), were charged with contravening the Parks and Wildlife Act after they were caught in a sting operation conducted by the police.

According to the National Prosecuting Authority of Zimbabwe, the trio’s alleged involvement in the pangolin trafficking scheme began sometime between April 15th and April 30th, 2024, when a fourth suspect, Derrick Ndlovu, brought the endangered animal to Muleya’s home. Ndlovu, who is still at large, is said to have then sought potential buyers with Muleya’s assistance.

The police received a tip-off on May 14th and arranged to meet with Muleya, who then led them to the hiding spot where the pangolin was being kept – a field belonging to Ndlovu’s grandmother. Ndlovu and Mhlanga, who had provided transportation using his Nissan AD van, then accompanied Muleya and Ndlovu to the meeting point at the Makhado Ranch turn-off in Beitbridge.

In a dramatic turn of events, Muleya and Ndlovu entered the undercover officers’ vehicle, where they allegedly negotiated the sale of the pangolin for USD3,000. However, the police officers quickly signalled their team, leading to the arrest of the three suspects on the spot. Derrick Ndlovu managed to flee the scene and is now the subject of an ongoing manhunt.

The case has been remanded to May 30th, 2024, as the authorities continue their efforts to apprehend the elusive Ndlovu and bring the entire syndicate to justice.

The arrest of the trio highlights the ongoing battle against the illegal wildlife trade, which poses a serious threat to the survival of endangered species like the pangolin. The Zimbabwean authorities have vowed to leave no stone unturned in their pursuit of those involved in such nefarious activities.

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