Panic as hungry villagers devour cyanide poisoned jumbos

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By Matabeleland North Correspondent

PANIC gripped Victoria Falls and its environs Thursday after it emerged some hungry villagers in Woodlands resettlement area were feasting on meat from elephants killed through cyanide poisoning.

The meat, it has been reported, was being sold by some dishonest villagers to unsuspecting locals.

Cyanide is a deadly substance that is used in mining, but poachers abuse it to kill wildlife by putting it in water bodies, salt licks and fruits.

Hundreds of elephants have died, including scavengers like hyenas, vultures and birds after feeding on poisoned meat.

Early in the week, Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) rangers attended to a scene in Woodlands area where four elephants were found dead after being poisoned by suspected poachers.

Three of the elephants had no tusks that had already been taken away by poachers.

A small boy who was herding cattle was first to discover the decomposing carcasses at a salt lick and informed other villagers who alerted rangers.

However, when rangers returned to the scene Thursday, part of the meat had been skinned and taken away.

Kachechete Ward 3 councillor Givemeagain Moyo warned his community not to eat any game meat sold by individuals.

“I appeal to you not to buy or eat game meat that you don’t know where it came from. There are some elephants that were poisoned with cyanide in Masue area and some people took that meat and are selling it around,” he said.

The Environmental Management Agency and Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust decontaminated the salt licks where the dead carcasses where found to make sure the deadly substance does not poison the environment and no other wildlife lick it.

The carcasses were not yet disposed of as rangers were still investigating the issue with the intention of tracking down the illegal hunters.

ZimParks spokesperson Tinashe Farawo said investigations were underway.