CHIREDZI – Powerful Zanu PF politician and Minister of State for Masvingo, Shuvai Ben Mahofa is in the eye of a storm after two rhinos were found shot dead and buried in dug-out pits at her Savuli Ranch in Bikita in the Save Conservancy.
The carcasses were discovered in April and June this year and the horns were chopped off.
A National Parks spokesperson Simukai Nyasha said bullet heads were found at one of the scenes and the pits were close to a compound.
The Minister of Environment, Water and Climate, Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri expressed shock and disappointment that she was hearing the news for the first time from the media.
She quickly composed herself and told The Mirror that she did not want to get involved in Masvingo politics.
Mahofa also confirmed the story but immediately said that her hands were clean.
She said the three scouts at her ranch did not have guns and accused white conservancy owners in the same area of plotting against her.
The rhino is one of the world’s most protected animals which faces extinction because of a huge demand for its horns. Save Conservancy holds Zimbabwe’s second largest rhinos population.
The discovery of rhino carcasses at the farm have raised serious concern that powerful politicians could be involved in the marauding rhino rackets.
Sources said the carcases were discovered because of the stench of the decomposing animals which were covered with sand and tree branches.
Several Zimbabwe National Parks official were unwilling to discuss the matter with The Mirror saying that the case was “too sensitive”.
However Nyasha said both animals were obviously killed for their horns as these were chopped off in both cases. He said that investigations were being carried out by the relevant security arms.
He added that the carcasses were found by Zimparks rangers and the act of burying them was to destroy evidence of the shootings.
“In a case of poaching, Zimparks rangers who were on patrol discovered a rhino carcass that was buried underground in Savuli Ranch in Save Valley Conservancy. The rhino horns were chopped off. Burying that carcass underground was obviously meant to conceal it from being seen.
“Investigations are still underway to establish circumstances surrounding this incident. The buried carcass was discovered end of April this year. Early June this year a carcass of a sub adult male rhino was discovered in SVC Savuli Ranch.
“The carcass was approximately 8-9 months old. Both horns were chopped off. A bullet head was also discovered at the scene. Zimparks has intensified investigations and patrols in the area with assistance from other law enforcement agencies,” said Nyasha.
“I can confirm that two rhinos were discovered dead on my property but these are animals move around everywhere in Save Valley. I don’t have any security control over them. Parks and Save Valley Security are the ones who make patrols and I heard they questioned my people who only guard my homestead without any gun. It is something that began way back as these whites are making tactics to tarnish my name as a black person,” complained Mahofa.
Mahofa has a 25-year lease in the Consercvancy.
Save Valley is a habitat for elephant, zebra, giraffe and rhinos. – Masvingo Mirror