Hwange National Park has been hit by fresh poaching activities with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) saying at least five elephants were this week found dead due to cyanide poisoning. The five elephants, a female adult, two female sub-adults, a juvenile bull and a sub-adult bull had their tusks missing, raising fears that another poaching syndicate targeting elephant tusks could be on the loose.
In 2013, at least 106 elephants were killed by cyanide poisoning at Hwange National Park in an ecological disaster later established to be the work of a syndicate sponsored by a South African businessman who used the deadly poison to kill elephants since 2009. A number of local people recruited into the heinous act were later arrested with some sentenced to at least 10 years in prison. In the latest incident, ZimParks said the killings occurred in Sinamatela and investigations into the case were underway.
“Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority confirms the death of five elephants due to cyanide poisoning. The elephants were killed in Sinamatela, Hwange National Park and all their tusks were removed by poachers. The elephants are suspected to have died due to poisoning. Investigations reveal that a total of five elephants were killed using a poison suspected to be cyanide mixed with coarse salt applied at a salt lick. Maize cobs were also found at the salt lick suggesting that this could also have been used as bait,” said ZimParks in a statement.
Meanwhile, this year Zimbabwe has lost six rhinos to poaching raising fears that the endangered species could be facing extinction in the country.
Speaking at the Rotaract Africa Summit which was recently held in Victoria Falls, Charlene Hewatt, chief executive officer of Environment Africa, said poaching was rife in Zimbabwe. She added that anti-poaching measures should be put in place to save the rhino population in the country.
She said local authorities should also enforce laws that forbid dumping as the country was also losing wildlife after they ate poisonous food and plastics from dumpsites.
“In Victoria Falls for example there is an illegal dumpsite just outside the central business district where residents throw all sorts of rubbish. We recently lost three elephants after they ate plastics from the dumpsite. There is therefore need to protect wildlife by avoiding dumping rubbish everywhere,” she said.