Front Page LONDON Telegraph today @telegraph #justice —————Zimbabwe police have launched an investigation into former first lady Grace Mugabe over allegations that she headed a poaching and smuggling syndicate which illegally exported tonnes of elephant tusks, gold, and diamonds from the country, the Telegraph can reveal.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, the president of Zimbabwe, sanctioned an "urgent" investigation into Mrs Mugabe's activities after "very strong" evidence was uncovered by Adrian Steirn, an Australian photo journalist, a senior official in the presidential administration said.
Mrs Mugabe wielded significant power in Zimababwe politics until her husband Robert Mugabe was ousted in a soft coup last November,
She was named as the mastermind of the illegal operation by two suspected poachers who were later arrested in a police sting after trying to sell Mr Steirn tusks in February.
She has not yet been charged.
Zimbabwe is home to about 86,000 elephants, or the second largest population in Africa, according to a census published in 2016. That figure represented a 10 percent drop in numbers since 2005.
Although the population is considered healthy in the northwest of the country, losses have been heavy in other parts. About 900 elephants to poachers between 2013 and 2016, nearly 250 of them poisoned with cyanide or shot.
Mrs Mugabe's name was linked to large scale wildlife trafficking following a four-month investigation by Mr Steirn, who posed as a customer for contraband ivory in order to infiltrate the smuggling and poaching networks preying on the country's national parks.
In an exclusive interview with the Telegraph, Mr Steirn said he decided to launch the investigation after hearing rumours about Mrs Mugabe's complicity in trade during several years reporting on wildlife crime in Africa. "For years I've been documenting the frontline poachers who end up serving 20 years for shooting a giraffe. Meanwhile, she was taking billions of dollars out of the country..... Read more via @adriansteirn