To say that I am relieved to see my family safe and sound in …… would be a great understatement. I can now explain the main reason for us leaving Zimbabwe..
On my way to do further training of Zimbabwe Republic Police and scouts in the Nyaminyami area I received a message from a third party to “report to Office of the President in Kariba” (OP is the Zimbabwe Central Intelligence Organization- the local secret police goons).
After a full and thorough interrogation I was told that I was “not allowed to train anyone and if I did I would be arrested”. When I protested that I had been given a two year residence permit in order to train anti poaching personnel, that I was training police with the authority of Police HQ and with the permission of the appropriate authority for the area, I was told to shut up, that they were “above the police”, and that even if I had done nothing wrong they would find a reason to arrest me and throw away the key unless I stayed “away from the area and did no training in Zimbabwe”. No explanation was given and they clearly didn’t care if it was obvious that they are involved in poaching or trafficking. They were so stupid, arrogant especially incompetent that they actually bragged that two Europeans working for NGO’s in the Kariba area were keeping them informed of all activities in the parks and adjacent wildlife areas, and that if I did any anti poaching work with the police or parks that they would know immediately.
I ceased all anti poaching training, ops and other assistance in Zimbabwe and we only used Zim as our base of residence, continuing our efforts all over Africa, while we planned to leave in good time, staying well away from the Kariba area and not saying a word about Zimbabwe.
Unfortunately CIO didn’t stop there and we began to hear via third parties that CIO were making more threats against me, obviously to ensure I didn’t come back to the area. They wanted me and anyone like far away from Matusadona and Nyaminyami. I subsequently heard that another well-known international anti poaching organization was told to stay away and also threatened.
Aside from the worry that I might be “picked up” or disappear without my family knowing every time I landed at Harare airport on my return from anti poaching training and ops in other countries, we had to sit and watch the number of reports of elephants being poached in the Matusadona, Nyaminyami and other areas sky rocket to the point where there are now almost daily reports. Previously in one of the main areas we had been training and advising we had reached a point where there had been zero eles poached in many months.
We finally scraped together enough to get out and are determined to redouble our efforts in those places where we are welcomed and where we are currently enjoying unprecedented successes. However, we left Zimbabwe with heavy hearts.
Now you know who is behind the poaching of the elephants in Northern Zimbabwe and why we left Zimbabwe. Mugabe’s government is desperate for cash and this is why they are going to the extremes they are, such as tearing wild baby elephants away from their mothers and herds and sending them to China. What people don’t realise though is that Mugabe’s political party and his secret police minions are desperate for cash too. CIO needs cash to pay its secret informers who spy on their neighbours and report any opposition. That cash has to come from somewhere and whilst the official government departments use legal but unethical means to raise funds, the political and secret security appartus and often the army use any means they can.
They (CIO and ZANU PF) are nothing less than an organized crime syndicate. They are behind the poaching in Zimbabwe and as they become more desperate they are going to “allow” more of it. Don’t be fooled when there is a report of Zambian poachers being shot. That is just them allowing parks or police to deal with the competition. When CIO is behind it no one does a thing. With their tentacles reaching every corner of every village they could shut down the poaching in Zimbabwe in a day.
Zimbabweans cannot talk about any of this or even comment on this post for example. It is one thing to take on National Parks for exporting baby elephants legally albeit unethically but they cannot breathe a word against CIO and mention the fact that they are the biggest and most ruthless mafia in Zimbabwe.
Edit: Thank you for all the words of support. My work with Chengeta Wildlife will continue in Malawi, Guinea and elsewhere. Where there is a political will to fight poaching and support rule of law this war can be won!
As long as we can get on the ground we will keep fighting this war. If you can, please donate. If you can’t donate, please spread the word. We are an organization with zero overhead and all funds go to our work in the field.