Walter Nyamukondiwa, Kariba Bureau
The bodies of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority rangers who went missing last Tuesday in Lake Kariba and found on Monday have been taken to Harare for post-mortem.
A search team that had combed the lake since last Wednesday found the bodies of rangers Timothy Tembo and Mabharani Chidhumo between Spurwing and Long islands in Lake Kariba.
The heavily wounded bodies were initially taken to Kariba district hospital before being airlifted to Harare for post-mortem.
Zimparks spokesperson confirmed in a tweet on microblogging site Twitter that the bodies had been flown to Harare for post-mortem.
“It is with great sadness that our two missing rangers have been found dead in Lake Kariba. @Zimparks wants to thank stakeholders, sister security depts who worked tirelessly to search our rangers.
“The 2 rangers are indeed conservation heroes. @Zimparks family & conservation partners are in deep mourning. The bodies have been airlifted to Harare for postmortem,” said Zimparks spokesperson Mr Farawo.
Mr Farawo said burial arrangements would be advised as details become available.
The bodies were found with hands tied to the back and the post-mortem will seek to re-enact how the two rangers died with the possibility of them having been hacked before being thrown into the water.
After arresting the poachers, the rangers reportedly took them to Changa Island Camp where they allegedly left one of the rangers behind with their firearms and the dingy boat the poachers were using.
It is not clear why the rangers left behind their firearms and chose to escort four poachers unarmed while clearly outnumbered.
However, the boat that the rangers were using to transport the suspected poachers from Zambia was found near Siavonga in Zambia with its engine removed. The engine has not yet been recovered.
The boat showed signs of having been scotched in a futile attempt to conceal evidence.
The rangers who numbered three during the patrol allegedly encountered the poachers who had encroached on the Zimbabwean side of Lake Kariba and managed to arrest them.
They took them to their camp at Changa Island before leaving behind their colleague and firearms before venturing onto the lake reportedly on their way to Kariba urban for further handling.