Three members of a suspected poaching syndicate have been sentenced to at least 15 years behind bars, following the poisoning and killing of 81 elephants in the Hwange National Park.
The sentence was handed down by Hwange provincial magistrate, Rosemary Dube on Wednesday against Diyane Tshuma, Robert Maphosa, and Thabani Zondo.
Maphosa and Zondo were each sentenced to 15 years in prison, while Tshuma was sentenced to 16 years.
Tshuma was also ordered to pay $600,000 to the Zimbabwe Wildlife and Parks Authority for killing the animals, while Zondo reportedly has been ordered to pay $200,000 by the end of the year.
The three sentenced on Wednesday are part of a group nine members of a suspected poaching syndicate arrested in recent weeks. They stand accused of lacing salt licks with toxic cyanide and placing the salt near water sources the elephants in Hwange use.
81 elephant carcasses have been discovered since late last month, and it is not known how many other animals have been affected by the cyanide poisoning.