By Owen Gagare
Organised wildlife poaching in Zimbabwe, particularly of elephants and rhinoceros whose tusks and horns are lucrative on the black market, has escalated to disastrous levels after the poisoning of about 90 elephants through cyanide by poachers who seem to be using new and deadlier methods of plunder.
Elephants and rhinos are poached mostly for their tasks and horns. These end up mostly in Asia, particularly China, Thailand and Vietnam where end products are a symbol of wealth while others use them for alternative medicine.
According to a report entitled The African Elephant Crisis produced by the United Nations Environment Programme, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network, organised syndicates ship several tonnes of ivory at a time to markets in Asia, and hundreds of elephants are killed for every container sent.
As a result the elephant population in Central and West Africa may be wiped out soon, although large herds still exist in East and Southern Africa, including Zimbabwe, where elephant numbers far exceed the carrying capacity.
“Currently it is likely that the total continental population estimate is in the range of 420 000 to 650 000 African elephants, with just three countries, Botswana, Tanzania and Zimbabwe accounting for well over half of these elephants,” reads the report.
“However, these numbers could change rapidly if present trends continue.”
The government says Zimbabwe’s elephant population has swelled to more than 100 000 against a carrying capacity of 40 000. More....