On May 4, 2023, Zambian Department of National Parks and Wildlife officers apprehended four poaching suspects following an investigation conducted in the Chiawa Game Management Area, adjacent to Lower Zambezi National Park, which borders Zimbabwe.
The four suspects were taken into custody by officers from Chirundu Intelligence and Investigations Unit in possession of over 1,000 pounds of hippo meat and a .375 caliber hunting rifle.
Among the suspects was a high-level poacher who had gained notoriety for engaging in poaching activities within the Lower Zambezi area and Zimbabwe. A successful prosecution lead to the conviction and subsequent sentencing of all four accused individuals to five years of imprisonment with hard labor.
The illegal bushmeat trade is the single greatest threat to wildlife populations in Zambia. It is a lucrative but ultimately destructive and unsustainable industry that not only affects ungulate populations, but all wildlife. Many poachers use snares, silent and indiscriminate killers which result in significant bycatch, particularly of vulnerable carnivore species. If ungulate populations collapse, it leads to a collapse in the carnivore populations that depend on them as prey, such as lions, cheetahs, and wild dogs.
Wildlife Crime Prevention, who assisted Zambian authorities in bringing these poachers to justice, has received several grants from the Lion Recovery Fund to tackle the illegal trade of bushmeat and lion body parts in Zambia.