By Joe Mintz
In a disturbing development in the ongoing killing of wild African animals for profit, poachers in Zimbabwe’s largest game park have poisoned more than 300 elephants and other animals using cyanide, according to the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force.
Conservationists have called the mass killings the single worst massacre in southern Africa in the past 25 years, the Telegraph reports. Pictures of the dead animals have been shared by the news outlet, showing deflated corpses of elephants from Hwange National Park.
“In July, around 300 elephants had died from cyanide poisoning in Hwange and were discovered by a group of hunters who flew over the area,” Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, told the Agence France-Presse. “The authorities only stepped in in September, and by then the numbers had escalated. As of last week, about 325 had died altogether.”
Cyanide poisoning, a method first revealed in July, may be more widespread than previously thought. While Zimbabwean authorities say 100 animals have been killed by poisoning the animals’ watering holes and salt licks with the deadly chemical, hunters who have surveyed the area and took the photos say they counted more than 300 animal carcasses.
Sources say government officials have been threatening villagers, offering money to buy their silence on who the poachers are, The Standard reports. Rodrigues adds the government is downplaying the numbers in order to protect a sophisticated network of poachers that may include top government officials and law enforcement agents.
“The problem is that a big cover-up is going on,” he said. “Those who have been arrested and convicted are the small fry who are being used as scapegoats while the big and dangerous fish are untouched. These include politicians and big business people.” More....