South Africa: Zim Ivory Poachers ‘Buy Cyanide for R680 a Bag’ – Conservation Group


By News24

Date Published

Suspected ivory poachers living near Hwange in western Zimbabwe, where another 22 elephants were found poisoned on Monday, were allegedly sold bags of deadly cyanide for just R680, a conservation group reported.

Sixty-two elephants are now known to have been killed by cyanide since September in Hwange and in Kariba. The latest carcasses were found in the Sinamatella area of Hwange, according to the state ZBC broadcaster.

On its main evening news bulletin, ZBC quoted Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesperson Caroline Washaya-Moyo as saying the killings occurred “despite five suspects having been arrested in connection with cyanide poisonings in Hwange”.

The Bhejane Trust said meantime in a statement that investigations on recent poaching incidents in Hwange had revealed that a middleman bought 10kg of cyanide from a mine in Filabusi district, south-east of Bulawayo, and sold it in two batches of 5kg. Each batch cost $50 or R680.

One bag was sold to locals near Sinamatella, where the latest killings occurred. Another bag was sold in Hwange town.

“The middleman fled just before he could be arrested and is now on the run,” the trust, which operates in Hwange and Victoria Falls, said.

Cyanide is readily available on the black market in Zimbabwe, where it is also used in illegal gold panning.

News of the latest poisonings comes just four days after the state-run Environmental Management Agency (EMA) announced it had decontaminated all areas in Hwange where cyanide had been used in the last few weeks.

Zim Media Review tweeted late Monday: “Becoming clear this is orchestrated by people of influence. It would take a brave journalist to find out who. Sad.”

Dozens of elephants were poisoned for their tusks in Hwange in 2013. In that incident, cyanide was placed on salt-licks in the dry park, with some reports indicating up to 300 elephants died.