Police investigating the poisoning of 11 elephants in Hwange confiscated all shoes from the homes of five suspects in an effort to see whether they were involved, the state wildlife authority said Wednesday.
Five people, all in their 20s, have been picked up for questioning in connection with the poisonings, which occurred in the last two weeks at two sites in and near the Hwange National Park, which is where Cecil the Lion was from.
The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority published a list of the names and addresses of the five suspects. All appear to have been staying at Hwange Main Camp, though they may not have been employed by the authority.
Said the authority: “Houses of the suspects were searched and all shoes found in the house were taken in an effort to match with the spoor pattern found at the scene.”
In a separate update, the authority said maize cobs may have been used to lure the elephants to salt licks which had been tainted with cyanide.
Poachers are understood to have removed the tusks from six of the elephants, but tusks were recovered from four carcasses. A juvenile elephant who was among the dead did not have tusks. The carcasses have now been burnt.
A separate elephant poisoning was reported in Kariba last month, when three elephants died after eating cyanide-laced oranges.
These 14 elephant poisonings triggers memories of the poisoning of dozens of elephants for their tusks in Hwange in 2013. In that incident, cyanide was placed on salt-licks in the dry park.