Wednesday 28 March 2018

Grace Mugabe investigated for ivory smuggling

The former first lady of Zimbabwe, Grace Mugabe, is suspected by wildlife officials to have smuggled ivory worth millions of dollars.

Mrs Mugabe faced accusations on Sunday that she had taken ivory from the country's stockpiles during her time as first lady and illegally sent pieces as gifts to high-profile individuals in the Middle East and Asia.

According to the Sunday Mail newspaper report, Grace Mugabe also demanded that officials grant her a permit to export millions of dollars worth of ivory to leaders to various countries, despite Zimbabwe imposing a general ban on ivory trading.

"Once outside Zimbabwe, the 'gifts' would be pooled together with other consignments of the product and routed to black markets," it said.

Zimbabwe has also suffered from serious poaching in recent years. Around 400 elephants died of cyanide poisoning in Hwange, Zimbabwe's biggest national park, between 2013 and 2015. Cyanide is easily obtained because of its use in the mining industry, and the poisonings continue. Often a waterhole is poisoned, which indiscriminately kills everythnig that drinks there. Sometimes fruits such as watermelons are laced and then when large game such as elephants eat them they die.

A serious knock on effect is that hundreds of vultures are often killed when they feed on a carcass.

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