Zimbabwe poachers kill 80 elephants, poisoning water holes with cyanide

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Zimbabwean have killed more than 80 elephants by poisoning water holes with cyanide, endangering one of the world’s biggest herds, a minister said on Wednesday.

Saviour Kasukuwere, the country’s environment minister, said the elephants had died in the last few weeks in , the nation’s largest, while security forces were preoccupied with the general election on 31 July.

Officials in the court in Hwange, 750 kilometers (470 miles) west of Harare, said Thursday the men were found guilty under anti-poaching laws and for illegal possession of 17 tusks.

One of the elephants killed recently by poachers in Hwange national park, , is recorded by officials. Photograph: Xu Lingui/Xinhua Press/Corbis

Police and rangers recovered 19 tusks, cyanide and wire snares after a sweep through villages close to the park, which lies just south of Victoria Falls.

“We are declaring war on the poachers,” he said. “We are responding with all our might because our wildlife, including the elephants they are killing, are part of the natural resources and wealth that we want to benefit the people of Zimbabwe.”

Zimbabwe is home to some of Africa’s largest herds, with half of the estimated 80,000 elephants thought to be in Hwange.

Kasukuwere, who was appointed to the environment ministry a week ago, said he would push for stiff penalties for convicted poachers, who routinely get less than the nine-jail term imposed for cattle rustling.

Zimbabwe is working to revive its tourism industry, including its wildlife sector, which has suffered years of decline blamed by some on the economic policies of the long-serving president, Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party, in power since the former Rhodesia gained independence from Britain in 1980, was re-elected in an election in July that was rejected by his main rivals, who said it was rigged.

This article originated from Reuters in Harare and published by the Guardian.

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Zimbabwean court officials say three poachers convicted of the cyanide poisoning of water holes that killed 81 elephants in a northwestern nature park to collect ivory have been sentenced to up to 16 years in jail.

Officials in the court in Hwange, 750 kilometers (470 miles) west of Harare, said Thursday the men were found guilty under anti-poaching laws and for illegal possession of 17 elephant tusks.

Another five suspects were ordered to be held in custody until their Oct. 4 trial.

Wildlife authorities say 81 elephant carcasses were found in the remote Hwange National Park in the past month. Officials said it was not clear where the other tusks were hidden or whether they had already been smuggled out of Zimbabwe to lucrative illegal ivory markets in Asia.

This article was published on Yenghana.com/

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Susan McGraw Keber

This is where Cecil the lion was killed. This must stop!!!! The murder of elephants for their tusks is a disgrace by humans! It is vile.

Lesley Sharon Coley
Lesley Sharon Coley

I am trying to contact Norma Coley who was married to Brian in the early 70's?

Jacqueline Deely

Horrendous and very disheartening.

Ela Gotkowska

so cruel…

Norma Lunderstedt Coley
Norma Lunderstedt Coley

The people who are buying the ivory should be hunted down and jailed for life. It is they who are encouraging this abhorrent slaughter.

Stephen Anderson
Stephen Anderson

These evil scum and their buyers must be caught, sent to trial, and hopefully hanged.

Linda Murphy Brandt

In addition to catching and punishing the poachers, they need to be doing something about who they sell the ivory to. If there is no demand for it, they cannot sell it in the first place. And who are the idiots that purchase the end products? Such a shame.

Krista Soots
Krista Soots

heartbreak.

Mark McCandlish

As with Polar Bears and other endangered species, when government agents come upon such carnage, they should be equipped to not only collect evidence of the crime, but to collect viable DNA samples from the dead Elephants to better preserve the future genetic diversity of this species. The wholesale killing of Elephant herds should be a capital crime in my view. The World Wildlife Fund and United Nations should coordinate a program of sanctions against Asian countries that do nothing to stem the importation of Ivory. It is hard to imagine such wanton cruelty.