TWO more elephants have been found poisoned near Zimbabwe’s flagship Hwange National Park, the site of a mass killing of elephants two years ago, the state broadcaster saidTuesday.
The two dead elephants were found near Pelandaba village, in Tsholotsho, south of the park.
“The Parks and Wildlife Management Authority are yet to shed more light on the matter after investigations have been completed,” the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) said on its website.
More than 100 elephants were found dead around water holes in Hwange in 2013 after poachers laced salt licks with cyanide obtained on the black market.
President Robert Mugabe’s government plans to export baby elephants captured in Hwange, claiming the southern African country has more elephants than it can support.
Authorities put the total elephant population at around 80 000 but conservationists say it is much lower.
Two elephants are among several animals that have been donated to feed thousands of delegates expected to attend Mugabe’s 91st birthday at the end of the month, according to reports.
Meanwhile, the state national parks authority confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that two poachers were killed in a shoot-out on the southern boundaries of Matusadonha National Park earlier this month. A rifle, ammunition and 70kg of dried buffalo meat were confiscated. A third poacher got away.
One of the dead men was recently arrested for possession of four elephants tusks. Illegal ivory possession attracts a mandatory nine-year jail term in Zimbabwe.
On Tuesday it was reported that elephants are amongst the animals that will be slaughtered for Mugabe’s $1m birthday bash scheduled for Victoria Falls at the end of February.