POACHERS cornered in a section of the vast Bubye Valley Conservancy in Beitbridge recently abandoned an AK-47 assault rifle traced back to the Zimbabwe National Army, police sources said at the weekend.
Beitbridge police sources close to the investigations told NewsDay that they were following up a case where poachers abandoned a military rifle and a bag with clothes.
“Game scouts had been following tracks until they caught up with two poachers who dumped an AK-47 rifle and a bag of clothes. The serial number of the gun has been traced to the Zimbabwe National Army,” the source said.
The police source said in the recent past, another firearm traced back to the Bulawayo police armoury was recovered after a shoot-out with poachers in the same conservancy.
Matabeleland South provincial police spokesperson Chief Inspector Philisani Ndebele yesterday said he was not aware of the latest report since he was in Bulawayo for the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair preparations.
“I am in Bulawayo for the trade fair and I do not have that information, I am sorry,” Ndebele said.
The Bubye Valley Conservancy, which straddles the Matabeleland South, Midlands and Masvingo provinces has of late fallen prey to poachers hunting for black rhinos.
In September last year, a 50-year-old suspected poacher who also worked as a teacher in Gwanda was shot dead in the conservancy while his alleged accomplice escaped.
In December the same year, poachers shot and killed two rhinos.
The black rhinos were translocated from the Hwange Game Reserve following a series of raids by poachers believed to be from neighbouring Zambia.
Unconfirmed reports have fingered some former workers at the conservancy as being involved in the poaching activities since they were familiar with the terrain, hence, the few arrests recorded in the area.