A police officer and a wildlife ranger in Zambia have been sentenced to five years imprisonment with hard labour for being in possession of a live pangolin.
Mr. Sakabilo Kalembwe from the Ministry of Tourism and Arts Public Relations Officer named the affected officials as Bertha Katanda, a wildlife officer from the department and John Pende, an officer in the Zambia police service.
Mr. Kalembwe said the jailing of the two officers attests to the nation’s zero tolerance for wildlife crimes.
“The Lusaka subordinate court has sentenced Bertha Katanda (42), a Wildlife Police Officer from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), and John Pende (54), an Officer from the Zambia Police Service, to five years imprisonment with hard labour for unlawful possession of a live pangolin. The duo was jointly charged with two other persons, for Unlawful Possession of the Protected Animal contrary to section 130 (1) ZWA No. 14 of 2015. Two other suspects in the matter were acquitted” he said.
Zambia Wildlife Act No 14 of 2015 stipulates a minimum sentence of five years imprisonment, without the option of a fine for persons found in illegal possession of pangolins, their scales, or other body parts.
Each decade, over a million pangolins are poached especially from Africa and sent to China. Due to their prolific insectivorous diet, pangolins are significant in pest control, often eating insects that negatively impact crop production.