By Steven Mvula
The Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) says two elephants have died of suspected poisoning outside Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park that fronts the Zambezi River in Livingstone.
ZAWA communications and public relations officer Mwila Muliyunda said in a statement issued in Lusaka yesterday that the two male elephants were found dead on Sunday. “ZAWA is on the scene to extract parts of the carcass for testing by the Food and Drugs Control laboratory to confirm the cause and exactly what herbicides were used in this particular case,” Ms Muliyunda said.
She said the incident could have been as a result of poachers using carbofuran, a toxic chemical, to poison water bodies as has been in the past.
“There have also been reports of poisoning of water bodies to kill fishes in Nyimba and Mfuwe where some wildlife police officers are said to have been affected. ZAWA is, therefore, discouraging communities in wildlife areas from eating meat from animals they find dead,” she warned.
Ms Muliyunda said last year, about 500 animals and birds died from suspected poisoning, with the highest number being from the North Luangwa Ecosystem where the total number of poached elephants stood at 49, and 300 vultures that were found dead near elephant carcasses.
“This was the highest figure recorded in over 20 years,” she said.
Ms Muliyunda said at the weekend, 52 buffaloes died in a stampede as they crossed Musa River in Itezhi-tezhi.
“The animals move in a herd of over a thousand and when disturbed, they all try to cross the river at the same time resulting into the deaths,” she said.