26 Elephants Killed With Cyanide at Game Reserve


Conservationists say poachers’ use of cyanide to poison elephants in Hwange National Park (pictured) has become a ‘huge problem’

POACHERS killed 26 elephants using cyanide at two locations within Zimbabwe’s biggest game reserve, prompting wildlife officials to buy drones and import anti-poaching dogs, the head of the country’s wildlife body said.

“So far we’ve been to two sights, with 26 elephants poisoned with cyanide,’’ Alvin Ncube, the chairman of Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife, told reporters at Hwange National Park. A further 14 of the animals were poisoned last week, he said.

Authorities will deploy drones this month to assist in monitoring the park, Ncube said. “We are also buying specially trained Belgian Shepherd dogs from South Africa, which will be working with law enforcement agencies.”-Bloomberg
The Mail Online said Patrolling rangers discovered the carcasses on Tuesday, according to Bhejani Trust and the National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
Caroline Washaya Moyo, the parks spokeswoman, said 14 tusks were recovered from these elephants and others were not recovered.
Rangers found 16 of the elephants in an area known as Lupande and 10 others in Chakabvi.
They also recovered 2.2lbs of cyanide and are increasing patrols in the park, she said. Cyanide is widely used in Zimbabwe’s mining industry and is easy to obtain.
Trevor Lane, the founder of Bhejani Trust, said: ‘The poachers were probably disturbed by rangers on patrol, which is why some of the tusks were recovered.
‘Cyanide poisoning is becoming a huge problem here and we are struggling to contain it.’
Last week, the parks agency reported that 14 elephants were poisoned by cyanide in in three separate incidents.
In 2013, as many as 300 elephants died in Hwange park after poachers laced salt pans with cyanide.
On Monday, environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri blamed a ban on Zimbabwean elephant sport hunting by the U.S. for increased poaching.
‘All this poaching is because of American policies, they are banning sport hunting.
‘An elephant would cost US$120 000 in sport hunting but a tourist pays only US$10 to view the same elephant,’ she said, adding money from sport hunting is crucial in conservation efforts.