Now Daily Exclusive
Higher education minister Jonathan Moyo has emerged as the kingpin in the rampant poaching of elephants for ivory in the Hwange national park area and in Matabeleland North.
Investigations by Now Daily revealed that Moyo is part of an ivory smuggling operation bankrolled by the Chinese mafia.
Moyo was arrested earlier this year after being caught poaching. Charges against him were mysteriously dropped and he was released under unclear circumstances. Moyo is now part of a cabal of corrupt ministers now trying to abuse the courts to prevent the probing online media, including this website from publishing details of the horrific decimation of Zimbabwean elephants for ivory.
“The minister shot the elephant and took ivory,” an environmentalist familiar with the episode told Now Daily.
Moyo is member of parliament for Tsholotsho North, a hotbed of elephant poaching neighbouring Hwange park, where more than 120 elephants were slaughtered earlier this year after being poisoned with cyanide. His partner in crime is Li Song, a wealthy Chinese woman who has been identified as the main buyer of poached ivory from illegal hunters in the parks area. Song is building Lupane state university for the government in exchange for unfettered access to ivory, diamonds, gold and other resources. Song gave Moyo the $50 000 contract to design the university’s logo. Ivory fetches very high prices in China for the politically connected who can smuggle it in, but can earn one the death penalty if caught.
Song also runs businesses in Harare, which Now Daily’s sources said were a façade for her ivory and minerals smuggling racket.
Song is the owner of Eagle Trading Company, based at 82 Peers Road in Harare.
“The purpose of the company is to falsify documents so that the ivory can be smuggled to China as if it’s coming from authentic sources,” said an environmentalist, who asked not to be named in print.
Poaching of elephants for ivory in Zimbabwe has triggered international outrage. The government has turned a blind eye on the racket, claiming the country has too many elephants. According to official statistics, the country has 53 000 elephants, a figure hotly disputed by environmentalists.
Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force chairman Johnny Rodrigues told Now Daily exclusively that the last unofficial audit in 2014 showed that the country had no more than 21 000 elephants.
“People travel for hours (in Hwange park) and don’t see any animals,” Rodrigues said, adding that the elephants were now concentrated near safari camps where there were watering holes.
Rodrigues said all major parks had lost large amounts of elephants to poachers in the last few years. He said Chizarira game park had lost 70 percent, Matusadona and Zambezi, 40 percent each.
Rodrigues condemned official plans to export elephants to China, amid reports that the government plans to ship another 200 elephants to the south east Asian country.
“Of the first 80 elephants that went to China, only one is alive,” said Rodrigues.
The reward for trying to protect the threatened African elephants, Rodrigues says, is that the Zimbabwean spy agency, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) has tried to kill him five times.
© Now Media 2015. All Rights Reserved.
Now Daily Exclusive