A 78-year-old man from Dete in Hwange District has been ordered by a court to compensate the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) of US$20 000 after he killed a leopard that had attacked him in the bush.
Amos Moyo of Thuthukani village on the edge of Hwange National Park used an axe handle to finish off the marauding big cat that had been caught by a trap he had set in Vulamashava bush.
The leopard attacked Moyo last Thursday when he went to check the trap, leaving him with serious injuries on both arms, head and face.
The leopard pounced on Moyo who used his hands to wrestle it after his axe had fallen down. He later managed to reach for the axe and struck it to death, after almost losing his right eye.
Moyo asked his nephew Perfect Ndimande (20) to carry the leopard carcase home where they skinned it with the help of Mr Tayi Moyo and Mr Gudu Justice Moyo.
Moyo and Ndimande were jointly charged with making, possessing or using Class Two traps and another of removing any animal or any part of an animal from any land or from one place to another on the land, when they appeared before Hwange magistrate Mr Rangarirai Gakanje.
Moyo told the court that he decided to trap the big cat as it had killed his goat.
“One of my goats was killed sometime in March and I saw some leopard spoors. I was frustrated when nothing was done after I reported to authorities,” said Moyo.
He was sentenced to 12 months in prison which was wholly suspended for five years on condition that he does not commit a similar offence. He was also ordered to compensate ZimParks of US$20 000 being the value of the leopard.
The magistrate said she considered his advanced age and that he almost lost his life, which was enough punishment.
Ndimande was fined $1 200 or four months in jail if he fails to pay by 31 July, and in addition, he was sentenced to a further two months in prison which were suspended on condition he does not commit a similar offence within five years.
The magistrate said she considered that Ndimande did not participate in setting the trap, while Tayi and Gudu were not charged because they only participated in skinning the animal. The carcass, skin and trap were forfeited to the state.
Prosecuting, Ms Jamesina Makanza said Moyo committed the crime between Thursday last week and Sunday.
“During the period between 18 and 21 June Moyo set a Class Two spring jaw trap in Vulamashava bush and caught and killed a leopard. Moyo instructed Ndimande to carry the leopard home where they skinned it with Tayi Moyo and Gudu Justice Moyo,” said the prosecutor.
Investigations by ZimParks rangers who were on patrol led to Moyo’s homestead where they found the leopard carcass hanging from a tree and skin spread on the ground to dry. Moyo and Ndimande were arrested.