Elephant poaching by cyanide poisoning happening again in Zimbabwe

Elephant poaching by cyanide poisoning happening again in Zimbabwe

In Lupane on Friday, ZIMPARKS rangers discovered a decaying elephant carcass suspected of having succumbed to cyanide poisoning.

Poachers employing the highly lethal toxin may be on the street again, nearly a decade after Zimbabwe lost hundreds of jumbo and other species in a similar method.

The tragedy was termed Zimbabwe’s worst ecological disaster in history when it occurred in 2013.

Police have begun their investigation after discovering a pail containing some liquid material beside the carcass, ruling out natural death.

The tusks of the dead elephant, on the other hand, were still intact.

“On March 15, a carcass of a decomposed elephant cow was discovered in Ngano Forestry near Sikungwa Village, Lupane, and the ZRP is investigating a case of possible cyanide poisoning poaching.”

“The elephant’s tusks were undamaged,” police spokesperson Paul Nyathi said. “However, a half-filled 10 litre bucket containing a liquid substance presumed to be cyanide was seized next to the elephant carcass.”

The country inexplicably lost 11 elephants in 2020, which were later discovered with their tusks still attached, ruling out poaching.

The inexplicable deaths appear to be related to the deaths of over 275 elephants in Botswana in the same year.

Poaching, poisoning, and anthrax fears were all put to rest after scientists confirmed an epidemic of a rare disease.

However, in recent years, poachers in Zimbabwe have poisoned dozens of elephants and taken their tusks to sell them to illegal ivory traders.

Zimbabwe has the second largest, estimated at 85,000 after Botswana which has the world’s largest elephant population estimated at 156 000.

There was a huge scandal in Zimbabwe back in 2015 with the Zimbabwe Wildlife Management Authority reporting three separate incidents in which 40 elephants were killed by cyanide poisoning.

Three were killed in the Kariba area, of cyanide put in oranges. The rest were killed in the Hwange National Park.

This article by Mar y Taruvinga was first published by New Zimbabwe on 20 March 2022. 

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