Zambia Busts SA Wildlife Smuggling Syndicate

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Zambia Wildlife Authority’s (ZAWA) Intelligence and Investigations Unit (IIU) officers have successfully intercepted a group of men attempting to illegally export 12 live Zambian sable antelopes by air to South Africa. Unfortunately five of the sable died as a result of stress during the journey.

The group of suspects included one Zimbabwean and six South African men who were caught attempting to load the animals on to a specially adapted light aircraft at a remote airstrip. The passenger seats of the 12-14 seat aircraft had been removed and water troughs installed for the animals.

The men are currently being held in custody in Zambia and have appeared in court charged with various offences including illegal possession of prescribed trophy animals, which carries a sentence of 5–10 years in prison. The operation resulted from complex intelligence gathering conducted by the IIU.

Last month one Zambian Sable antelope bull was reportedly sold at auction in South Africa for $1.96 million. The successful bust of this wildlife smuggling syndicate has attracted significant attention to the value of Zambia’s wildlife and the serious measures being taken by ZAWA to bring wildlife criminals to justice.

This success demonstrates the dedication of the ZAWA officers conducting dangerous but vital work to tackle cross border illegal wildlife trade. The operation was partially funded by Game Rangers International (GRI), Wildlife Crime Prevention Project, and highlights the need for continued support to this essential wildlife crime unit. GRI receives support from the African Wildlife Foundation for its efforts to combat trafficking of wildlife and wildlife parts in Zambia.