4 jum­bos die, cyanide poi­son­ing sus­pected

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Sukul­wenkosi Dube- Matutu

FOUR ele­phants were found dead along Man­zam­nyama River which bor­ders Bulil­ima Dis­trict in Mata­bele­land South Prov­ince and Tsholot­sho Dis­trict in Mata­bele­land North in a sus­pected case of cyanide poi­son­ing.

Bulil­ima Ru­ral Dis­trict Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Mr John Brown Ncube said a pro­fes­sional hunter who was op­er­at­ing in the dis­trict found the car­casses at the river on Fri­day.

He said tests were be­ing con­ducted to as­cer­tain the cause of death.

Mr Ncube said the four ele­phants were at an ad­vanced stage of de­com­po­si­tion and had al­ready been de­horned.

“We re­ceived a re­port on Fri­day from a hunter who op­er­ates within the dis­trict say­ing he had found four ele­phants dead. A team com­pris­ing of­fi­cials from Bulil­ima and Tsholot­sho lo­cal authorities, Ve­teri­nary Depart­ment, Ema, Parks and Wildlife Au­thor­ity and po­lice of­fi­cers vis­ited the area on Satur­day to ac­cess the sit­u­a­tion.

“The four ele­phants had al­ready been de­horned. Three of them were ly­ing close to the river and the fourth was about a kilo­me­tre away. The river sep­a­rates Bulil­ima and Tsholot­sho hunt­ing con­ces­sions. Pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tions in­di­cate that it could be cyanide poi­son­ing but we are wait­ing for of­fi­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tion,” he said.

Mr Ncube said of­fi­cers from the Depart­ment of Ve­teri­nary Ser­vices col­lected some of the ele­phant in­testines while the En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity of­fi­cers col­lected wa­ter and soil sam­ples for ex­am­i­na­tion.

The ele­phants, he said were sus­pected to have been killed about four days ear­lier.

“Th­ese are the ac­tiv­i­ties of poach­ers and it ap­pears that they used a mo­tor pow­ered saw to re­move the ivory. It also ap­pears that they laced the wa­ter with cyanide and then waited upon the ele­phants to con­sume the poi­son.

“The dis­trict has in the past recorded cases of ele­phants that have died be­cause of cyanide poi­son and it ap­pears that th­ese in­ci­dents have resur­faced which is a cause for con­cern,” he said.

The four Bulil­ima killings add to the nine that were re­cently re­ported in the Aman­dun­dumela area in the Gwai For­est, Mata­bele­land North, in yet an­other case of cyanide poi­son­ing. The poach­ers es­caped.

In March, three sus­pected poach­ers es­caped af­ter they were spot­ted by forestry guards in the same area. They left be­hind five kilo­grammes of cyanide tablets sus­pected to have been in­tended for use in poi­son­ing an­i­mals.

Ele­phant poi­son­ing was first re­ported in 2013 when more than 300 jum­bos died in the Hwange Na­tional Park. — @DubeMatutu.

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