HARARE (APP) – At least 22 more elephants have died from suspected poisoning by poachers near Zimbabwe’s main game reserve, a parks official said Tuesday, as conservationists struggle to stem a spate of attacks.
“We recovered 22 elephant carcasses in the Sinamatela area yesterday and so far we have also recovered 35 tusks,” Caroline Washaya, spokeswoman for the parks and wildlife management authority, told AFP.
“Initial investigations indicate that there was cyanide poisoning. We continue to lobby for deterrent penalties for people found with poisonous substances such as cyanide. “We can’t continue to lose wildlife at such a rate.”
The latest deaths came less than two weeks after 26 elephants died from poisoning in two separate incidents outside Hwange National Park, in the resort town of Kariba and near Zimbabwe’s border with Botswana.
And last month, at least 14 elephants died of poisoning in various attacks.
Poaching is common in Zimbabwe’s game parks with elephants and rhino as the main targets for their tusks and horns which are smuggled to eastern Asian countries.
Last year, more than 300 elephants died after suspected poachers placed cyanide near their watering holes.