Walter Nyamukondiwa, Kariba Bureau
A joint search team comprising members from Zimbabwe and Zambia combed part of Lake Kariba yesterday and today to look for the two Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority rangers who went missing on Tuesday.
The search effort was futile before it was called off late yesterday afternoon as it was getting dark and resumed this morning amid indications that helicopters from both countries will be called in to expand the search mission.
Members of the search and rescue team are drawn from Zimparks, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and similar forces from Zambia.
Commenting on the progress so far, Zimparks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo said: “Nothing has come up yet but the whole security apparatus and other stakeholders is on the ground.
“We are working closely with our Zambian counterparts on the matter.”
The Zimparks rangers who have not yet been identified were patrolling the lake when they had contact with suspected poachers before they managed to arrest them.
Preliminary investigations show that the four suspected poachers who are still at large are from Zambia and had encroached into Zimbabwean waters.
The rangers confiscated the dingy boat they were using and went to nearby Changa Camp where they wanted to leave the boat for safekeeping before heading for Kariba urban for further handling.
Along the way, the poachers who were not handcuffed owing to provisions that do not allow anyone to be constrained while on water, attacked the rangers who were armed.
A tussle later ensued and the poachers are suspected to have overpowered the rangers.
The matter came to light when the rangers’ patrol boat was found floating on the shores of Lake Kariba on the Zambian side with its engine removed.
Investigations to identify the poachers are underway amid .
Meanwhile there have also been reports of pirates operating in the lake targeting fishing rigs where night catches are raided.
The latest incident has drawn mixed reactions from Kariba residents with some calling increased patrols in the lake to help in the conservation of fish while others called on Zimparks to adequately equip the rangers as they were outnumbered.