ZIMBABWE – Since the beginning of 2010, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority has captured to safety 53 pythons. The specially-protected species was captured in areas which include high- and low-density surburbs, farms/plots, and industrial areas in and around Harare.
The pythons were captured through the authority’s problem animal control unit. According to the Parks and Wildlife Act, the African python is a specially protected species valued at US$500 as compensation fees. Under the act, no person shall hunt, keep, or sell any such animal unless with a permit. A permit will only be issued for scientific or educational purposes, for providing specimens for a museum, or for a zoological garden or similar institution, among other things.
Anyone found dealing illegally in specially-protected animal species, including pythons, and found guilty of such offense shall be liable to a fine not exceeding level eight of the standard scale of fines as captured in the finance act or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years.
It is against this background that the Authority is calling upon the public to report the presence of pythons in their areas as killing them attracts a fine or prison sentence. The authority further encourages the public to even capture pythons and place them in a sack for collection by its officers. They are free to take the captured African python to the nearest ZRP or appropriate authority. Pythons are by nature non-poisonous but can be harmful.
The heaviest python captured this year weighed between 50 and 60 kilograms and was captured in a plot near Caledonia farm after swallowing a goat. The longest is three meters and was captured in a plot near Goromonzi turn off. All the 53 captured African pythons were taken to Chivero and Darwendale Recreational Parks because they are protected areas. This provides an opportunity for tourists, both domestic and international, to view them during game drives.