HARARE, Zimbabwe – Four Chinese nationals have pleaded guilty to engaging in the mass slaughter of precious endangered species – tortoises which they were killing daily for their daily food.
The Chinese immigrants were found guilty of contravening the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act Chapter 19-09.
The four nationals Zhang Hong Yuan, Chen Caijan, Lin Guibin and Shi Jiahua (pictured) resided at Chiwara Homestead located near Gambakwe Village in Bikita. These individuals had procured Bells Hinged Tortoises from the local community for personal consumption.
The Bells Hinged Tortoise is listed under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) Appendix II and its numbers in the wild have dwindled significantly over recent years.
13 live tortoises together with the skeletal remains of a further 40 during the raid on the residence of the Chinese men.
The tortoises had been stored in two empty 200ltr steel drums with no provisions for food or water. Stagnant water and fecal matter was evident as was overcrowding. Written statements from members of the community stated that the tortoises were dropped into boiling water whilst alive in order to separate the shell from the meat. Tortoise meat was also recovered during the raid. The extreme cruelty of such actions are a clear violation of the Animal Welfare Act as defined.
The Save Valley Conservancy Anti-Poaching unit notified the Tikki Hywood Trust who in turn contacted the ZNSPCA. Inspectors were dispatched to Bikita in order to undertake investigations into the matter. As a result of the investigations, charges of cruelty were laid against the four Chinese Nationals.
When interviewed the four Chinese all admitted guilt in contravening the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. The Chinese men were consequently arrested and fined.
Further investigations revealed that these accused nationals had been employed locally without relevant immigration documentation. The four men have since been arrested are now detained in a state security prison pending deportation.
The ZNSPCA commended the joint efforts undertaken by the Zimbabwe Republic Police, National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, The Tikki Hywood Trust and The Save Valley Conservancy Anti-Poaching Unit which resulted in these arrests.
A statement read:”As an organisation, the ZNSPCA is greatly concerned with the increasing cases of cruelty to all animals within Zimbabwe. Our wildlife remains a legacy for future generations of Zimbabweans and we should jealously guard their future wellbeing.
In accordance with our mandate we will vigorously pursue and prosecute any individuals found guilty of contravening the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.”