File photo: Pangolin are a protected species in Zimbabwe.

Gaborone – Four suspected poachers have been arrested in northern Zimbabwe after being found in possession of three live pangolins, the Matusadona Anti Poaching Project (MAPP) has reported.

In a statement issued on Monday, MAPP said the three men and a woman were arrested on Sunday by an anti-poaching unit near the north-western town of Gokwe following a tip-off from members of the public.

At the time of their arrest, the suspects were seeking buyers for the three pangolins, which include one adult animal and two young ones.

“Following a tip off, four individuals were arrested yesterday in possession of three live pangolins. The four accused will appear in the Gokwe Magistrates Court on Monday,” MAPP said.

“Pangolin are a protected species in Zimbabwe and if the accused are found guilty, they will receive a minimum sentence of nine years in prison each.”

The two will be charged with the illegal capture, translocation, possession and illegal trading in critically endangered animal species.

The pangolins have since been taken to the Tiki Hywood Trust’s wildlife orphanage in Harare, where they will be rehabilitated ahead of a potential release back into the wild.

Meanwhile, one of the two self-confessed traditional doctors, who were arrested last week after being found in possession two elephant tusks and a 303 rifle, has pleaded guilty to poaching and the illegal possession of ivory.

The other has denied the charges and both have been remanded in custody to March 30.

African News Agency (ANA)