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Wednesday, 29 June 2016
Zimbabwe national parks boss suspended in probe over missing rhino horn
The head of Zimbabwe's national parks authority has been suspended as part of a probe into 228kg of missing rhino horn, it was reported on Tuesday.
In a move that will shake trust in the embattled Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks), Edson Chidziya has been sent on forced leave for 60 days "in order for him not to interfere with the probe", according to the official Herald newspaper.
A ZimParks board statement quoted by the privately-owned Newsday said: "This follows anomalies in the rhino horn stockpiles amounting to 228kg."
Chidziya was appointed in 2013. Parks staff have previously been implicated in the attempted smuggling of ivory: last October a senior ecologist and two game rangers tried to smuggle at least eight elephant tusks through Harare International Airport.
Zimbabwe has over five tons of rhino horn in stock. Some of this is recovered from rhinos that have been killed by poachers who did not have time to take the horn before the dead rhinos were discovered by the authorities.
The latest poaching reported in Zimbabwe was that of an elderly female rhino at the Thetford reserve outside Harare two weeks ago.
Rhino poaching worsened last year, where only around 800 black and white rhinos are left across the country. A female baby rhino has just been born in a Zimbabwe reserve, it was reported this week.
Chidziya will be on full pay during his suspension.