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Elephants die of suspected cyanide poisoning in Gwayi-Shangani Wildlife Conservancy

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By Bulawayo Correspondent


Six adult elephants were found dead last week in the Gwayi-Shangani Wildlife Conservancy area in a suspected case of cyanide poisoning.

The decomposing carcasses were discovered at a water hole adjacent to Hwange National Park.

Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesperson Tinashe Farawo confirmed the incident, indicating that investigations are underway.

“We have an incident where six elephants were found dead in the Gwayi/Shangani area but we cannot ascertain the cause of the death because the elephants were found in a decomposing state,”

“Our veterinary doctors are investigating the cause but at the moment we do not know what happened,” said Farawo in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com.

Wildlife conservationists in the area told this publication that the animals were killed by cyanide laced in one of the water sources in the area.

“We strongly suspect that the elephants, which were all bulls, were poisoned using cyanide. Their decomposing carcasses were found about 100 to 300 metres apart along a pathway which the animals usually use when going to drink water. The other thing which also suggests that the elephants might have succumbed to poison is that there were no animal scavengers or even maggots at the site,” the conservationist said.

The elephants had their tusks removed, suggesting that the killing was motivated by poaching.

In 2013 more than 80 elephants were poisoned in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s largest game park.

Elephant poaching has been a lucrative business for poachers who supply their tusks to Asia where there is high demand.