300 kilograms of dried fish caught illegally

A series of successful joint operations between the Bumi Hills Anti-Poaching Unit and National Parks have been completed out on Lake Kariba recently.

A routine patrol around the Kota Kota narrows area yielded evidence of a number of illegal fishing camps established by Zambians on the Zimbabwean mainland and islands. A number of well known camps were checked and found to be uninhabited but a foot patrol across Namagwaba island uncovered a new camp.

After an initial skirmish between the rangers and poachers all four Zambian occupants were arrested. The gang, comprised of two men and their wives, had been camping on the island for three weeks in a very well concealed camp after illegally crossing into Zimbabwean territory. Using a three illegal twine nets totaling 1.2km long to fish under the cover of darkness they had managed to catch large quantities of fish, with no regard given to size or species, which they were in the process of smoking and drying for preservation. The dried fish recovered weighed approximately 300kg which would have probably weighed close to 1 tonne when fresh.

The camp was destroyed and all non-natural effects recovered for destruction at the BHF HQ. The fishermen and their wives were transported to Kariba Town and handed over to the Zimbabwe Republic Police Minerals and Border Control Unit for further processing through the courts where they will face multiple charges. Their boat, the illegal nets and the fish have been impounded and kept at Bumi for safe storage. This operation highlights how effective gill netting is at plundering our natural resources.

In a separate incident a Zimbabwean registered Kapenta rig was impounded for fishing without a permit and in an illegal area. There are designated kapenta fishing areas, generally in a minimum water depth of 20m, to safeguard the shallow nursery areas where the kapenta breed but the regulations are often flouted by unscrupulous fishermen who increase their catch by fishing in these nursery areas ultimately damaging future fishing stocks for all. The kapenta rig and its occupants were handed over to Matusadona National Parks for further processing where they will have to pay a deposit fine of $20 each and $2,000 to secure the release of their boat.