The Lusaka High Court has upheld the conviction of three Chinese nationals for being in possession of 25 pieces of rhino horn, according to the Ministry of Tourism and Arts.
Ministry public relations officer Sakabilo Kalembwe stated in a press release, Thursday, that the Lusaka High Court had upheld the conviction of three Chinese nationals, while two Zambians convicted for the same offences were acquitted.
“The Lusaka High Court has upheld the conviction of three Chinese nationals who, along with two Zambians, were sentenced to five-years imprisonment with hard labour by the Chadiza Subordinate Court in December 2017, after finding them guilty of being in illegal possession of 25 pieces of rhino horn,” read the statement.
“The five had, through their lawyers, challenged their conviction by the Chadiza Subordinate Court in the High Court, but when the matter came up, the High Court upheld the conviction of Wan Qian, Huang Qingzhon and He Qingmao. This means all three Chinese will remain behind bars and serve the rest of their five-year sentences. Meanwhile, the High Court has acquitted the two Zambians namely, Lovemore Kamwendo and Oberty Simwanjata, after finding them not guilty of the offense of unlawful possession of prescribed trophy, namely 25 pieces of rhino horns, for which they had been convicted by the Subordinate Court. The conviction of the five in 2017 caught international attention because it was the first time that Chinese nationals had been publicly named in the illegal wildlife trade. China is a well-known destination for many illegally-traded wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn, big cat skins and pangolin scales, fuelling poaching and smuggling activities, which greatly undermine efforts to conserve wildlife in many African countries. The upholding of the conviction of the three Chinese by the High Court thus sends a clear message that Zambia will punish wildlife criminals, regardless who they are or what country they come from.”
He added that the Department of National and Wildlife (DNPW) also arrested 28 suspects for various wildlife offenses across the country.
“The DNPW has arrested 28 suspects for various wildlife offenses across the country. During the operations, officers recovered eight fire arms, one live pangolin, 103 wire snares and a live pangolin. The Department working with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has also translocated 35 buffaloes and 200 impalas to Sioma-Ngwezi in an effort to restock the national park,” he stated.
And Kalembwe disclosed that the number of tourist inflows into Zambia has doubled to 24,675 in the second quarter of 2018 compared to 12,190 in the first quarter.
“The DNPW has recorded 24,675 tourist arrivals in the national parks in the second quarter of 2018 compared to 12,190 in the first quarter,” stated Kalembwe.