The Zambian government has seized an aircraft and a motor vehicle, and arrested six South Africans and a Zimbabwean for attempting to smuggle 12 sable antelopes.
The suspects were nabbed in Gwembe where they said they were moving the animals from Lusaka to a ranch in Livingstone. The suspects had a permit to move the animals but it had some inconsistencies.
ZAF commander Lieutenant General Eric Chimense says the aircraft was cleared to fly to South Africa but instead went to Gwembe District. The animals had been driven from Lusaka to Gwembe in sweltering heat.
Five of the 12 sable antelopes, which were on the verge of being smuggled out of the country, have died. Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) Public Relations Officer Sakabilo Kalembwe says the death is due to stress and the heat the animals suffered. Mr Kalembwe said that the authority’s veterinary doctors were trying to make the remaining animals as comfortable as possible at Lusaka’s Mundawanga Wildlife Park where they have been moved for observation and rehabilitation. The remaining sable are adapting to the new environment.
Mr Kalembwe said the legal department is still studying the matter as the authority seeks which appropriate charges to slap on the seven foreign nationals.
Tourism Minister Jean Kapata inspected the aircraft in the company of Defence Minister Richwell Siamunene at Lusaka’s City Airport. Ms Kapata said that all airstrips will be subjected to stringent security searches by armed security forces to bring a stop to any illegalities, and Mr. Siamunene says the activity of illegally reaping Zambia’s natural resources ought to be stopped. Three South Africans were also caught trying to smuggle 29 sables last month. Tourism Minister Jean Kapata warned that any Zambian involved in the scheme will face the wrath of the law.