Zim elephant population down 6.8% in 3 years - report

2016-08-02 14:56


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Harare - Zimbabwe's elephant population has dropped by at least 6.8% in a three-year period, due partly to poaching and a lack of funding for wildlife protection, a state-owned newspaper reported on Monday.

It fell from 88 000 in 2011 to 82 000 in 2014, the Herald quoted African Wildlife Foundation spokesperson Kennedy Wekesa as saying.

Wekesa said cyanide poisonings in the Hwange National Park and elsewhere in Zimbabwe had contributed to the decrease in numbers. More than 200 elephants were killed in the first poisonings in 2013. At least 60 elephants were killed in another wave of cyanide poisonings in Hwange and Kariba in late 2015.

Wekesa blamed human-wildlife conflict and the illegal trafficking of game across regional borders for the drop in elephant numbers. The population of elephants had previously been reported to have dropped by as much as 40% since 2001.

An recent tally of elephant numbers in Zimbabwe is not available. Authorities said Zimbabwe had exceeded its carrying capacity for elephants and would continue with legal sales of live elephants, despite outrage over the sale of more than 20 young elephants to China last year.

Meanwhile, the state-run Chronicle newspaper reported that 10 poachers were arrested in central Gokwe and the Save Valley in south-eastern Zimbabwe last week. Some were understood to have been ivory poachers.

Elephants are threatened across much of the region. In Malawi, there are only around 2 000 left, down from 4 000 two decades ago.

Read more on:    zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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