Poachers in Zimbabwe Killing Elephants using Cyanide
By Brenda Ziga
Five elephants were killed last week by poachers using cyanide in Matabeleland North, Forestry Commission information and communications manager Ms Violet Makoto has said.
In a statement, Ms Makoto said Forestry Commission guards who were on patrol discovered the cyanide which was planted on salt licks.
"A total of five elephants have been killed this week.
"Forest Protection Unit guards who were patrolling the Amandundumela area of Gwaai Forest on Wednesday afternoon discovered cyanide planted on salt licks around Simunyu water point.
There is no water pumping taking place at this water-pan but game animals like licking the soils around it," she said.
She said Forestry Commission protection personnel and the Zimbabwe Republic Police were alerted and started searches.
"More Forestry Commission protection personnel together with ZRP officers were alerted to this incident and upon tracking the spoor, five elephant carcasses were discovered with the tusks already removed.
Ms Makoto said a duiker was also found dead on Thursday.
"On Thursday, the search team came across a place where a duiker was killed and skinned and it is presumed to have been killed for food by the poachers.
"It appears the poachers are doing their business on foot as the spoor is heading towards Block O of Gwaai Forest," she said.
She said the Forestry Commission was working hard to find the suspected poachers.
"The Forestry Commission team is still hard at work to bring the culprits to book," she said.
"We are suspecting a team of about five poachers. We came across a camp sometime ago, which looked like it accommodated about five people and we think it is the same team," she said.
Zimbabwe has so far lost nearly 400 elephants in the last two years.
Cyanide is a highly poisonous chemical, used in processing gold.
It kills in the most painful, yet silent fashion, a method that helps poachers to avoid the attention of game rangers, whose mandate is to guard the animals from danger.