The photographs of dead elephants in Hwange National Park sickened the world. It wasn’t just the grotesqueness of the spectacle, but also the method with which they were killed that shocked everybody. The use of cyanide — or any poison at all — to kill wild animals dehumanises the perpetrators of such hideous acts.
The ecological effect is even more frightening; it has emerged the jumbos were not the only animals to die as a result. In an ecosystem, animals often survive by eating one another. In the Hwange case, the lions and the vultures which thought they had found a godsend dinner perished after their feast.
Interestingly, the poisoners might also have committed suicide, as the cyanide will eventually find its way into their food with devastating effects.
But the killing of the jumbos, 95 of them, in a single area, must not be viewed as the only environmental disaster the country faces; in fact it must be seen just as the tip of the iceberg. Elephants are big animals, hence the images of the decaying beasts were shocking and jolted the new government into action. But the action should not be on elephants alone, or on just Hwange National Park alone.
Anecdotes coming from around the country suggest poaching is rampant as well in other areas such as Mana Pools, Gonarezhou and the conservancies scattered round the country.
But animals are not the only aspect of our environment that has been targeted; forests too. For me there is little difference between the decaying carcass of an elephant and the chopped down trunk of a hundred-year-old indigenous tree!
There must be a holistic way of looking at our environment. As the people of Tsholotsho must know by now, poisoning elephants does not end with the deaths of the jumbos only but the whole chain of interconnected feeding patterns is affected. The poisoners did not understand how an ecological system works. More....