Zim deploys 150 rangers, police after latest cyanide killings in national park

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Hwange - Zimbabwe has deployed 150 parks rangers, police officers and environmental clean-up personnel in the wake of the latest suspected poisoning incident in Hwange National Park, a parks spokesperson says.

The deployment comes after two elephant carcasses were found by an anti-poaching patrol inside the park on Monday.

"Currently we have deployed at least 150 personnel including parks, police and (members of the) Environmental Management Agency," said Tinashe Farawo, spokesperson for the state parks and wildlife management authority (Zimparks).

Poisoned salt licks

"They’re already on the ground responding to these incidences of poaching," he told ZBC's SFM radio station.

"The two elephants are suspected to have died of cyanide poisoning, which was administered on salt licks. One of the elephants had its tusks removed by poachers whilst the other one had its tusks intact," he added.

These latest killings bring to at least 12 the number of elephants conservationists say have been killed since June in and around Hwange by poachers armed with poison. Earlier this month two poachers were arrested in Dete, on the border of Hwange, for killing five of the elephants with poisoned oranges.

Deep inside the park

They were sentenced to nine years in jail each last week by the Hwange Magistrates’ Court.

Environmental experts have to clean up after a poisoning incident to ensure other wildlife, particularly scavengers like jackals and vultures aren’t also killed by feeding on the poisoned carcasses.

Most of the recent poisoning incidents have been outside the park, or near its boundary. Sources told News24 that these latest two killings were deep inside the park.

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