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Evil elephant poisoners stalk the African wilderness

September 30, 2013 Destination Global, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Poachers in Africa are turning to cyanide, a deadly and lingering poison, to kill elephants. Police in Zimbabwe recently arrested nine people suspected of killing more than 80 elephants with the poison – and three of the poachers have just been sentenced to at least 15 years in prison each.

Cruelly, poachers administer the poison by dumping it into waterholes where wild animals drink. Much other wildlife drinks from the same waterholes as the elephants, and cyanide is such a lingering poison it can kill anyone or anything that comes into contact with it, humans included. Scavengers like hyenas and vultures that feed on dead elephant carcasses are poisoned in turn. EGT_Artical Banner A 250x250

Poaching threatens Africa’s animals as well as the economies of African countries dependent on tourism. Wildlife and game reserves are among the greatest tourist attractions in Africa, with African journeys commonly called safaris no matter where they visit.

Elephants are one of Africa’s celebrated “Big Five” game animals, the other four being  lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo. Elephants and rhinos, in particular, are hunted by poachers; elephants for the ivory in their tusks and rhinos for their horns, which are used in traditional Asian medicines, though ineffectual medicinally.

In the latest Zimbabwe case, police arrested the alleged poachers after finding elephant carcasses with their tusks removed at waterholes in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s biggest game reserve. A provincial magistrate sentenced Diyane Tshuma, 25, to 16 years in prison for poisoning the elephants with cyanide, SpotFM Radio in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, reported. Robert Maphosa, 42, and Thabani Zondo, 24, were each sentenced to 15 years.

Enormous fines were levied against two of the men. Tshuma was ordered to pay the equivalent of AUD 640,800 to the Zimbabwe Wildlife and Parks Authority for killing the animals. Zondo must pay the equivalent of AUD 213,600 by the end of the year.

The arrests and charges came after a team of experts headed to Hwange to investigate the elephant poisoning deaths.

It’s by no means the first cyanide attack to hit Hwange National Park. Two years ago, cyanide was used to kill nine elephants, five lions and two buffalo there.

Written by : Peter Needham

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