This past weekend, rangers in northern Zimbabwe shot dead two alleged Zambian poachers who had crossed into Zimbabwe with the aid of the full moon.
The Bhejane Trust conservation group reported that some Zambian poachers “crossed [the Zambezi River] in the full moon and were making their way inland to poach elephant”
“The group comprised of one Zambian believed armed with a heavy weapon (375/458), one with an AK for protection, and 8 porters”.
The Parks patrol engaged them and shots were exchanged – Parks shot dead the poacher with the AK, and a porter – the rest of the group fled leaving everything behind including the AK, 100kg of mealie meal and personal items. They had only just entered Zimbabwe so had not shot any elephant yet.
Full moons are notorious for being the dreaded ‘poachers moon’. The bright light given off by the full moon allows the poachers to see the animals.
The bright moon light also means the poachers do not have to use flashlights or lamps– one of the things which gives away their presence to wildlife park security.
In 2015 during the Supermoon Lunar eclipse, poachers went on a killing spree in South Africa.
Also cross border poaching is not uncommon between Zambia and Zimbabwe. At least six Zambian poachers have been killed since the beginning of this year.
The porous border on the river Zambezi between Zambia and Zimbabwe allows for poachers to cross over to Zimbabwe where wildlife is in abundance. Last week two Zambian air force officers were caught in possession of Rhino horns.
On the Bhejane Trust Facebook page where the poaching crime was first reported, some Zimbabweans seemed supportive of the border and parks security while others like one user said to “Spare the poacher and kill the funder.”