This kind of activity has been well publicized in the international media, particularly the rhino poaching, which has also severely affected South Africa. According to Mtsam- biwa and other sources I have spoken with, the demand for this activity is being driven by individuals in Asia, particularly from Vietnam. What has made these rings so effective of late, says Mtsambiwa, is that they have successfully recruited locals to assist them. He says this became prevalent due to the recent economic troubles in Zimbabwe, which made some people willing to take chances in exchange for more money than they could make in a year. Couple this with very lenient penalties for wildlife violations and the result is that numerous Zimbabweans, even some Parks and Wildlife staff members, have assisted with the collection and smuggling of rhino and elephant parts.
The good news, according to Mtsambiwa, is that the sharp rise in this kind of poaching and the international publicity it has attracted has given his agency increased pull with other agencies in strengthening penalties for wildlife violations and cooperation in patrolling and capturing violators. Mtsambiwa says they were able to get police departments and even segments of the army to team up for........(continued)