By Tichaona Sibanda
A leading conservationist has called on the government to declare the current rampant poaching of elephants a ‘national disaster’ to help stem the crisis.
The illegal killing of elephants has been on the rise again with poaching at its highest level in a decade, fuelled by global demand for ivory, particularly in Asian countries.
Johnny Rodrigues, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task force, implored government to take drastic action to stop the menace.
Almost all of the elephants that have been killed for their ivory by poachers in the last few months have died because of cyanide, used to poison their water holes in Hwange, the country’s largest game park.
Wildlife department officials have confirmed that the deadly chemical also killed numerous smaller animals and predators which feed on them. Last month nine poachers were arrested after rangers tracked them to a cache of ivory hidden in the park.
Rodrigues told SW Radio Africa on Monday that the authorities must find a way of ensuring that safari operators in the Hwange national park give a certain percentage of the game they kill to local communities, for food.
Some of the local communities who live on the borders of Hwange national park have been linked the poaching, as they try to make a living from assisting the criminal gangs. More....