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Police in Zimbabwe have arrested 12 poachers of endangered pangolin so far this year and eight of them have already been handed heavy jail sentences, a pangolin protection trust said on Monday.


The Tikki Hywood Trust called the clampdown “encouraging”.

The poachers were arrested in seven separate cases between January and March. They come from Harare, Nyamapanda in eastern Zimbabwe and Guruve and Kwekwe in central Zimbabwe, the trust said in a statement.

“Eight of these poachers have been convicted to the full extent of the Zimbabwean law, which is nine years in jail,” the trust said. Three suspected poachers are still in custody awaiting trial. It’s not clear what happened to the twelfth suspect.

Pangolins, or scaly anteaters, are shy animals with a highly developed sense of smell. They feed at night on termites and ants and have a long tongue. They are classified as endangered in Zimbabwe. Until recently, pangolins were often handed over to President Robert Mugabe. They are vulnerable to poachers, mainly because their scales are considered to have magical or healing powers.

In Asian medicine, pangolin scales are used for the treatment of fibroids, among other problems. Locally, their scales have been reputed to keep lions away.

In October, a female pangolin that had been confiscated by poachers in eastern Zimbabwe gave birth in a busy police station in the city of Mutare.

For more on the plight of the pangolin read: Chinks in the Pangolin’s Armour

Time and Tide
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