5 February 2013

Rwanda: Police Arrest Suspected Poachers

Eleven men have been arrested over hunting animals in Akagera National Park.

Police recovered several traditional weapons including spears, machetes and knives used in killing the animals in an operation, yesterday.

Benoit Nsengiyunva, the Eastern Province police spokesman confirmed the arrests, noting that they were held in custody and will be charged for breaching the Parks and Wildlife laws.

He said they were tracked and arrested by Parks and Wildlife rangers and officers from the Rwanda National Police.

"A joint operation by Police and park rangers managed to fight and arrest the poachers. One of them was injured in the process and is in hospital. Culprits should stand warned that they won't escape the law," he said.

The Penal Code stipulates up to five years' imprisonment to suspects convicted of poaching or a fine not exceeding Rwf1m.

"The law is tough. Killing park animals affects ecosystem and tourism industry," Nsengiyunva said.

He urged residents to always inform the rangers and the police, of suspected poaching.

"It should be a social responsibility where every individual is concerned. We thank those who exposed the poachers, but we feel there should be more involvement of the people in protecting wildlife and nature," Nsengiyunva said.

Kayonza district Mayor John Mugabo equally warned the public against poaching, noting that local leaders would remain vigilant in combating the crime.

He said the suspects were paraded before the public to show the futility of poaching.

"We remain committed than ever to fight poaching. We are duty-bound to protect the park," Mugabo said.

The park has a variety of wildlife and is a habitat to more than 500 bird species.

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