At the Hwange National Park in the African country of Zimbabwe, cyanide poisoning has led to the deaths of 22 more elephants. The news has been confirmed by the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
With these most recent deaths, a total of 62 elephants have been confirmed to have been poisoned by poachers in the country this month alone.
Last Monday morning, park rangers discovered the bodies of the elephants in the Sinamatella area of the park.
According to a spokesperson of the national parks, Caroline Washaya-Moyo, the poachers used cyanide to kill the elephants, and they managed to escape with three ivory tusks.
Washaya-Moyo elaborated, “We are now trying to check how many elephants had fully developed tusks because babies are among those killed. The rate at which we are losing animals to cyanide is alarming. Many other species are also dying from the cyanide used by poachers to target elephants. We are appealing to people in communities close to national parks to cooperate with authorities.”
Earlier this month, the park had reported that 40 elephants had already been killed by cyanide in three separate incidents. Three elephants were killed in the Kariba area, where cyanide had been put into oranges, and the rest were killed in Hwange Park.
More than 200 elephants were killed from cyanide poisoning in Hwange Park in 2013. The park agency hopes that utilizing trained dogs from South Africa will be able to help discourage poachers. Additionally, the park also plans to start using drones to better monitor the situation. Drones should help, since the park is vast and difficult to monitor in its entirety.
Meanwhile, authorities also announced that they seized 380 pounds of ivory at Harare International Airport. The ivory was worth about $43,250, and it was going to be smuggled to Singapore. The authorities arrested three Zimbabweans and one Malian in the process.