8 July 2019

Zimbabwe: Seven Hwange Elephants Killed in Suspected Cyanide Poisoning

Photo: Kevin Walsh
'Where the blue of the night meets the gold of the day'. Elephants in the evening, Hwange, Zimbabwe.

ZIMPARKS is investigating a suspected case of cyanide poisoning after seven elephant carcasses were reportedly found in an advanced state of decomposition in the Hwange National Park on Saturday.

A report to Zimparks, NewZimbabwe.com was told, stated that rangers on patrol near the border with Botswana in an area administered by Main Camp, discovered the seven carcasses.

An anti-poaching team was dispatched Sunday morning to investigate.

There was however no mention whether the elephants still had tusks.

"Our rangers were on patrol around 4pm on Saturday when they discovered seven elephant carcasses towards the border with Botswana. It is suspected that the elephants may have been poisoned with cyanide and they were in an advanced state of decomposition," said a senior Zimparks official.

The anti-poaching team comprising police and rangers as well as officers from the Environmental Management Authority were said to be still in the park Sunday evening.

Hundreds of elephants were killed since 2013 as suspected poachers used poisonous cyanide which they administered in salt leaks, water sources and fruits as poaching activities escalate in the country's game parks.

Speaking at the recent Africa Union-United Nations Wildlife Economy Summit held in Victoria Falls, participants acknowledged that high rates of poaching were a result of dissatisfaction by communities living adjacent to national parks as they were not benefiting from the wildlife.

The summit sought to deliberate on ways on which communities can be included in wildlife management programmes to end human-wildlife conflict.

Zimbabwe has about 84 000 elephants against its capacity of 54 000.

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